What do How To Dress Well, The Soft Moon, DIIV, Atlas Sound, and Joey Bada$$ have in common?
One month into school, we’re well into the swing of things: academics, buffoonery, weather, slacktivism, impromptu Peter Yarrow singalongs. Impossibly sleek after its über-hip Prince Rama-guested launch party, Aural Wes is also back in action after a month of hibernating, freshly redesigned with some friendly pine trees in the background to boot. There’s also the upcoming shows calendar page—kind of like the Film Board calendar, except it doesn’t pop up in the background of all of your dorm room pregame photo shoots. Can you dig it?
Thus far, Wesleying has been diligently covering the fall’s musical offerings on a post-morten basis, from Laura Stevenson and Top 40 Cover Band and Plume Giant to our own mini-Insanity Weekend of sorts (Danny Brown, Prince Rama, R. Stevie Moore) to Thursday’s evening with Ben Seretan ’10 and Oneohtrix Point Never. We haven’t, though, given much attention to what lies ahead. And there’s a lot of it. So in the spirit of previous Wesleying concert previews and the newly revamped Aural Wes, here’s a (by no means exhaustive or comprehensive) glimpse at the lineup between now and mid-November. (No, not just October. I lied.) Scroll on for the lineup.
(Disclosure: As a committee member, I am anything but objective; I personally organized none of these shows, but took part in discussions for each of them.)
HOW TO DRESS WELL (with Port St. Willow, Bamenda, and Slolivia)
Tonight, Eclectic, free
- What it sounds like: Back in 2010, I described How To Dress Well’s excellent debut in these obnoxious terms: “Love Remains plays out its 38 minutes like the distant, murmured echo of 1980s and ‘90s R&B… If Guided by Voices produced a D’Angelo album underwater on some horribly battered four-track, it might sound distantly like to this—but even that only vaguely conveys how weirdly, hazily alluring this album is, sincere hooks and infectious loops emerging after multiple listens from the swamp of clipped reverb and endlessly tracked vocals.” Two years later, indie R&B maestros Frank Ocean and The Weeknd are huge, and HTDW’s hazy brand of “PBR&B” sounds less alien and absolutely timely.
- Why you should go: How To Dress Well (who’s also a grad student in philosophy who has studied in both the US and Europe) just resurfaced with the acclaimed Total Loss, which pushes the song sketches past the three-minute mark and makes room for bass and bottom in the mix. It’s an exciting comeback, and it’ll be even more exciting to see how he reproduces this sort of production work live . Plus, it’s turning into quite a weekend for Duchampion alums: the opening act, Port St. Willow, features Ben Seretan’s old bandmate, Jake Nussbaum ’10. I haven’t heard them yet, but Seretan raved about them in the car on Thursday, drawing comparisons to Jeff Buckley and latter-period Talk Talk. I’m sold.
October 11, Eclectic, free
- What it sounds like: Slowdive’s 1991 debut, updated for the Spotify set: hazy vocals, hazy guitar, hazy melodies, and surprisingly big drums. No, really. Behind the hype and high-profile touring slots, the band’s debut, Oshin, sounds like a talented, well-honed tribute to the golden era of Shoegaze.
- Why you should go: When DIIV opened for sneering Texas punks Teenage Cool Kids last February (they were still calling themselves Dive then), only about twelve people showed up. No matter—they performed admirably. Eight months later, I’m expecting the audience to increase at least tenfold. This show will be a fun lesson in just how fast a smart young indie band can blow up.
21 23, Russell House, free
- What it sounds like: Experimental improvisation featuring trumpet, tuba, string bass, and various electronics. Difficult to describe. Impossible to Google.
- Why you should go: Because you miss Alvin Lucier as much as I do. And because you’ve always wanted to see Russell House turned into the eerie concert venue it should be.
October 27, Zelnick, free
- What it sounds like: Bright, artful indie pop with crystal-clear jazz vocals and busy busy, funky percussive tracks. According to Facebook, “It’s as if David Lynch curated a band with Billie Holiday.” It’s funky!
- Why you should go: Anything that references Dirty Projectors and Billie Holiday in the same breath is probably worth your attention, at least fleetingly. Plus, Zelnick should be used as a music venue more often. (Shout-out, Peter Yarrow.)
THE SOFT MOON
October 31, Eclectic, free
- What it sounds like: Think grimy, electro-tinged post-punk, with lots of emphasis on dark, gloomy synths and insistent repetition. Fans of Joy Division, Silver Apples, and Suicide, take note—the “Circles” video is probably a good visual indicator of what to expect. (“When It’s Over,” by contrast, is a bit mellower, but no less eerie.)
- Why you should go: I can’t remember the last time I saw music this gloomy and ugly at Wesleyan. Considering this show is on Halloween, I’m positively psyched.
THE SAKHIOBA ENSEMBLE
November 10, The Chapel, free
- What it sounds like: This. Or this. The Sakhioba Ensemble is a 12-piece, all-male vocal ensemble of Georgian chant, and they’ve been praised for their “dazzling display of ringing harmonies, virtuosic yodelling, and nifty footwork, interspersed with soulful laments and love songs that [seem] momentarily to stop the universe in its tracks.”
- Why you should go: When’s the last time you got to hear authentic Georgian vocal music performed by natives at Wesleyan? When’s the next time you’ll get to hear authentic Georgian vocal music performed by natives at Wesleyan? Exactly.
November 1, TBD, $5
- What it sounds like: Bright, fractured, guitar-driven lo-fi pop. Atlas Sound is the solo project of Deerhunter’s lead singer and guitarist Bradford Cox (though he’s been using the name for his solo cassette recordings since childhood), and it’s naturally a bit more insular than Deerhunter’s reckless “ambient punk.” The project culminated with 2011’s widely acclaimed Parallax, which features Wesleyan’s own Andrew VanWyngarden ’05 on organ and backing vocals.
- Why you should go: Enjoy fractured, emotive, indie pop with lots of guitar squalls and lo-fi hiss? You’re not alone at this school. This is gonna be a big one.
November 3, Russell House, free
- What it sounds like: Clicks, clacks, crackles, rumbles, beeps, and various other onamonapias. Gino Robair is an experimental composer, percussionist, and improviser whose favorite toys include “prepared/modified percussion, analog synthesizer, ebow and prepared piano, theremin, and bowed objects (polystyrene, customized/broken cymbals, faux daxophone, metal.” There’s a lot of other information on Wikipedia, but more importantly, click here for a video of Robair literally playing some guy’s kitchen.
- Why you should go: See: Ben Klein. (Did I mention Robair has performed with John Zorn and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282?)
November 10, TBD, free
- What it sounds like: Chilled-out hip hop from a 17-year-old Brooklyn rapper who takes his cues from early ’90s Golden Age hip hop icons (ATCQ, De La Soul, The Pharcyde) and MF Doom. He’s recently signed to Cinematic Music Group/Red/SONY, and he idolizes the ’90s so much he named his mixtape 1999.
- Why you should go: To remind yourself that Kitty Pryde isn’t the only teenager ushering in The Future Of Hip Hop. Still not sold? Listen to Joey’s flow on “Waves.”