Last weekend I went to go see Idiot Glee and Islands play in the side chapel of First Unitarian Church in Philly. It’s a small space that fits maybe 50 people total, and it was especially nice to see Islands in a setting that’s closer to the size of someone’s living room than the usual concert venue.
Idiot Glee opened, and I had never heard his music, so I had no idea what to expect. He reminds me of someone like Jens Lekman, a little, or maybe Benji Cossa. There’s a tough-to-pinpoint aspect of all three’s music that indicates a respect or love for 50s/early-60s rock. I think you can hear it to some extent in “Let’s Get Down Together.” Like sock-hop tunes with synthesizers, powerfully felt soda shop ballads. It was good. He had a lot of people quietly pew-dancing in the chapel.
I saw Islands once before, on their tour for Return to the Sea. That show was great, as was this one. Nick has a voice that’s almost always fun to listen to–it’s tough to think of many other examples of singers in bands like Islands who have intrinsically interesting voices (maybe Spencer Krug? I think it might have something to do with being able to inflect in a couple different ways, so that there’s often pretty varied singing even within a single song). They played the entirety of the new album, and a few notable older songs (Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby; Switched On; and Swans, the last of which they launched into suddenly. That song is totally electrifying, still). They put on a great show, and really took advantage of the tiny space–the light show in particular was impressive and understated, just a projected line of light that bisected the stage (I don’t know how else to describe it) that followed the vibrations of the music, like a live-mixed EKG. There is probably a technical name for this that sounds much less lame than ‘live-mixed EKG.’ Definitely one of the best shows I’ve been to in a while.