Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Live Review: Tartufi, Lion's Pause, Northfield, MN

(Photo by Ryan Kitson)
Download: Tartufi - "Ebenezer You Are Rotten"
Download: Tartufi - "Until The Ocean Swallows Stars"

I lived in San Francisco for the summer. While I was there, I tried to see Tartufi a bunch of times. But I never got to, considering the Bay Area is the worst place ever to be under 21.

Good thing St. Olaf College is a hotspot for random independent talent, because I got to check out Tartufi for free, without getting bounced for being too young. I don't say it enough: College is marvy.

Now, Now Every Children was booked to open the show. They had to drop due to a couple of their members being in high school and not being allowed to stay out late on school nights. As disappointing as that was, their sound would have been totally complementary to that of Tartufi, but I know how it goes. No one wants to get grounded before the big Sadie Hawkins dance.

But whatever. Another blog buzz band might have been a little too hip. Tartufi was, after all, voted San Fransisco's Best Independent Act by the San Francisco Bay Guardian reader's poll. It's a big honor, considering the vibrant cultural scene in the Bay Area.

So do they live up to the hype? I think so. I can be hard to please (just a little, honestly), but there's nothing I love more than a band with a good sense of mayhem. And Lynne Angel and Brian Gorman were two of the most entropic performers ever.

You know a show is going to be chill and wacky when the band asks everyone to whip out their cell phones and call a buddy to come to the show. After a couple minutes of chipper stage banter, the silence broke and Tartufi unleashed a blitz of twisting, turning schizophrenic rock songs.

Drawing heavily from 2006's Us Upon Building Upon Us, Gorman and Angel forced ther way through epic masterpieces that would please everyone from fans of jangly, Modest Mouse-like pop rock to the precisely calculated pseudo prog rock of The Mars Volta. Lead singer/yodeler channeled a little bit of Animal Collective's acid freak camp counselor style vocals, while drummer Brian Gorman slammed away on his drums and got totally Jeff Mangum on a megaphone.

I think what really kept the duo afloat was the fact that they each do so much. Angel would riff on one guitar, record it on a guitar pedal, drop the guitar, grab a bass and do it all over again. I admire their ability to do so much without having a large band. Gorman busted out the glockenspiel and megaphone at several junctures, which generally guarantees either a good time or an absolute musical failure rivaled only by the inclusion of pan flutes in a rock song. Luckily for the audience, Gorman knows how to rock the glock, and we were treated to some whimsical little interludes in between fast-paced flurries of notes.

The two of them have an absolutely darling dynamic (they hugged after the show, and I was pretty much cuted-out), and that's something worth preserving – even if you have to play two or three instruments in one song.

There was a little bit of drag in the middle of the show owing to the drawn-out wails of Angel's vocals that start to blend together a little bit after a while. The set was also a bit short, clocking in at about an hour. But it was a really good hour, so I can't really complain.

Tartufi currently has two full-length releases, Us Upon Building Upon Us and 2005's So We Are Alive, as well as two E.Ps. I highly recommend Us Upon Building Upon Us, which showcases tighter songwriting and more excitable jams than its predecessor. All their releases can be ordered through their website.

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(April Wright)

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