Friday, February 24, 2006

Head Automatica: Live!

Yesterday, I went up to Hartford to see Head Automatica in concert. I'm a big fan of their album, Decadence. I first listened to it because the album was produced by Dan the Automator, however, it's not an album masterminded by Automator in the same way that Deltron or Lovage are. But it's still a great album, with really catchy, fun songs.

We got lost a couple of times going there, so I missed the first two opening bands, and the very beginning of Morningwood's set. I got Morningwood's album when I saw they'd be playing and I enjoy it. It's one of those albums that in the future will probably be considered very mid 00s, it doesn't move too far from where the trend for rock bands is now, but that doesn't mean it's not good, and live, they were pretty impressive. Their frontwoman was a really strong presence, at times too annoyingly so, but on the whole they were really solid, fun to watch.

This concert was a great example of the unofficial age segregation at concerts. I would say it was about 2/3 high schoolers, and this was definitely the type of show that I would have went to back when I was in high school. But then when I went to see Doves or even The Polyphonic Spree, it seems to be only people around 25-30. What's the deal, are the bands so different that they produce these very segregated audiences? I don't think there's anything inherent in Head Automatica the album that makes it youth targetted, but in terms of live delivery, it was pretty clear that he was going after this younger demographic. It's not that there were no older people at the show, it's just that they were by far in the minority. I'm sure next week when I go to Belle and Sebastian, it'll be a whole different demographic. Is the music that different? Why can't we all just get along?

Anyway, as for the performance itself, it was fun, but they had a couple of things against them. On the album, the Head Automatica songs are sort of chil, they're rock, but more pop/electronica oriented than really rocking. But played live, everything gets turned up a notch, and the subtleties of the songs can get lost. This is effective for certain bands, like The Polyphonic Spree, who are all about excess, but in the case of Head Automatica, it meant that some of the more textured songs ont he record become more generic rock. The core of the song is still there, and it was a lot of fun to hear "Brooklyn is Burning" and "Beating Heart Baby," which are the most straightforward rock songs, but some of the others lost something in the live translation.

They also played a bunch of new songs, which sounded really good on the first listen, something that bodes well for the new album. However, it's tough when half of the songs they play in the show are ones that the audience hasn't played before. I think my biggest issue with the show was the fact that they basically just played the songs as on the record. There were only a few extended instrumental parts where the songs were altered to suit live playing. I much prefer when a band expands the songs from the record into something else for the live performance. So, the dueling guitars section here was great, and seemed to go over really well with the crowd, they should have brought out more of that.

So, it was a fun show, but not one of the best I've been to. I won't compare it to The Spree, that's just not fair, but a band like The Raveonettes really expanded and upped the ante on their songs for the live performance, while Head basically just played what was there.

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