Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Feelies in Northampton...best band ever?

I've been meaning to see the Feelies for a while, almost went last November at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and then didn't, and finally accomplished the deed last Friday. They were so, so, so good. If you get a chance, go.

Here's my write-up in Blurt.

The Feelies: Live in Northampton

The Feelies have always had an uneasy relationship with time. Crazy Rhythms, the band's first album, revved and stuttered with at-the-gate energy, eager to be off, giddy with a hormonal rush, but palpably blocked and frustrated. The Good Earth, five years later, was fluid, languid, circular, its jangling hooks moving forward, then catching on themselves so that they doubled back. Last year's post-reunion album Here Before was even more serene and rearview oriented, full of admonitions to slow down, take time, see what happens later on. There is very little "now" in the Feelies' recorded cannon, but quite a lot of past and future.

That said, they were definitely "present," in every sense of the word, at their two-set, two-encore gig in Northampton this Friday, the band's two-percussionist line-up (that's Stan Demelski on kit and Dave Weckerman on tambourine, maracas, woodblock, cowbell and general sun-glassed, decadent rock-star ambience) lighting a fire under even the most placid Feelies tunes. There was nothing elegiac about Glenn Mercer's bounding, lunging, windmilling guitar work, either, and even stolid Bill Millions ("Look at Bill. He looks like a science teacher," said someone behind me) got into an antic groove by the end of the first set. There was very little banter, just an occasional "Thank you," from long-time bassist Brenda Sauter, and then the woodblock or tambourine or tom beat would kick in again, Mercer would execute one of his rubbery, vibrato-filled guitar licks, Millions would strum a stinging jangle and the band would be off again.


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