Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb is apparently a pretty big deal in her homeland, though she’s not really as well known to average North American audiences. That’s started to change a bit as Tayeb made some headlines recently when she filled in on lead vocals for Steven Wilson during the New York stop on his Hand. Cannot. Erase. tour. The ailing Porcupine Tree bandleader had lost his voice, but following the old showbiz motto that the show must go on, he handed over most of the vocal duties to harmony singer Tayeb and by all accounts, it sounds like she took the the task quite well. After seeing her perform a set during Brooklyn Vegan’s showcase Friday afternoon at Cheer Up Charlie’s, it’s easy to see why.
Tayeb is a talented performer with a big, bold rock ‘n roll voice and a persona to match. Some of her stuff, though still technically impressive, hewed a bit to close to an ’80s/’90s style rock sound and didn’t do much for me, but her song “Child” stood out with a bit more of a moody, atmospheric sound.
A different kind of atmosphere was provided by Vaadat Charigim (also from Israel), whose singer had a bit of a touch of Richard Butler or Robert Smith in his voice that matched the band’s classic shoegaze sound quite well. Vaadat Charigim had first caught my attention for having the distinction of being the first band I saw announcing that they were headed to Austin this year for SXSW. At the time, it kind of seemed like they were jumping the gun, but hey, it worked on me so kudos to them.
Mamamoo were the chosen ones by the Korean music industry to showcase this year at SXSW. A group that was formed a few years ago, Mamamoo has quickly risen up the ranks of power among the girl group factions in Korea. The Belmont was packed to the roof for them and the excitement was high. You know, I’ve been going to K-Pop nights at SXSW for four years now and they never take the time to serve free Korean food. Why is that? It’d be a great opportunity for Korea to introduce a lot of Texans to the wonders of bulgogi and bimbimbap as well as all those cool bands and cell phones they are making.
Anyways, the group took the stage and people just lost it. Four grown ass men next to me pulled out print out paper signs with the names of the girls and waved them throughout the show, trying to get the girls attention. These were grown ass men I’m talking about. I’m like, well if you are going to make signs, put a little more effort into it and not just a shitty black and white printout. Much to my delight, the girls ignored them. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe.
Mamamoo’s music was quite refreshing, they incorporated many different genres into the music, ranging from 50’s style doo-wop sound to straight up hip hop track sounded like it was produced by ‘Dre. It made for an interesting show and I can see why they have separated themselves from all the other girl factions in Korea. Their dance moves were on par and quite flirtatious, which brought all the boys to the yard. I found it charming that even though it was obvious that hey didn’t know a lick of English, they would just yell out random stuff like “Let’s go!” or “Are you ready!”. A very charming show.
I would say go check them out but they probably aren’t touring, so watch this video instead.
For ten minutes, it was glorious Crystal Castles – panic inducing strobe lucks, bone shaking beats and a barely audible and aggressive sounding vocals from Edith Frances. Then it all came crashing down. After some apparent technical problems, the group left the stage and ended their set, leaving a wet and drunk crowd bitterly disappointed. Same old shit I guess.
“My name’s Gwenno and this song’s about how much of a pain in the ass patriarchy is. For everybody.” That was an interesting way for Gwenno to introduce herself to the crowd, but it definitely made an impression. It also gave me some insight into Gwenno’s lyrical content, which also included such light topics for a Wednesday night as war crimes and revolution. She acknowledged though, that if people wanted, they could imagine that the songs were about something other than that because most likely wouldn’t understand the lyrics anyways.
You see, Gwenno Saunders, formerly of The Pipettes, is Welsh and so are all of her lyrics. Because of this, and because I didn’t really do much research before catching her show, I went in not knowing that her latest album, Y Dydd Olaf, is based on a Welsh science fiction novel in which robots are turning humanity into clones and the protagonist must communicate only in Welsh so as to avoid detection by his robot overlords. It’s an interesting concept and one which wouldn’t immediately be apparent upon first listen to her music without the background info. There’s a bit of a disconnect between the subject matter of her lyrics and the ethereal beauty of her voice and synth based music, though one that makes the songs all the more interesting.