22 January 2008

Fiery Furnaces @ The Bug Jar - 21 January

Things often come unexpected. Some recent examples: the New York Football Giants' improbable run to the Championship Game of The National Football League, the Syracuse Orange's near victory over Georgetown (which I took in right before the night's concert), this here blog post for sure (who saw it coming?), and everything that is the Fiery Furnaces. Everything they do comes at you with a twist. The fact that they debuted in my new home of Rochester Monday night was definitely unexpected when announced. And the bar they played, the Bug Jar, is definitely unexpected. The decor of the place includes enough kitsch and decorating ideas to fill 5 like-sized bars. What with the huge bugs "flying" around and around on the overhead fan, the psychedelic colored waves running down the walls, or howabout the 50s/60s/70s studio apartment permanently planted upside down on the ceiling? So it was the perfect venue to witness the sold out show put on by the siblings Friedberger. Their music with the multiple mashed-in mashed-up influences, lyrics out of left field, crazy time and key changes. They mixed the setlist up nicely between all of their recorded material which was great...and unexpected. The stage became a "ballot box" for their unique brand of Democ-Rock or De-Rock-macy or whatever you want to call it. The crowd was encouraged to scribble out requests and bring them up to the stage. And also to bring up any random pieces of paper with words that they could use for lyrics to upcoming songs. Unexpected. I wouldn't particularly describe their music as toe-tapping, but live they recreate their tunes into absolute pure and fun rockers, funkers, thrashers etc, sometimes all at once. Obviously with unexpected and jarring stops and changes and unique vocal stylings of Eleanor. Their touring rhythm section of Jason Loewenstein on bass and Bob D'Amico on drums was simply put, SICK. Best rhythm section I've seen at an indie-rock show outside of the latest Jicks outfit. That is of course unless you consider MMJ indie-rock, then you can just throw that last statement out the window. Loewenstein's bass playing ignited the furnace on multiple occasions. The Furnaces music is challenging to say the least, so to put it out there live on the stage is risky and a potential trainwreck. But not only did this band pull the music off, they outdid the music beyond where I thought it could be taken. Then, when they brought out the Democ-Rock portion of the show and started playing requests I just thought they were crazy. And some of it did kind of fall apart, like the song they had to cut short because Eleanor forgot the lyrics. But other tunes that clearly were unrehearsed and possibly completely unknown by the touring band, were pulled off quite well. Not as tight or as vibrant as the planned portion of the set, but still damn good. Here are a couple of preview articles from local pubs I found interesting enough: City Newspaper D&C and a bit of video from the night... Enjoy!

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