All photos by Rachel Eisley
Atlas Sound’s show backstage at the Black Cat felt like something out of a dream. The whole thing seemed hazy and surreal, and I wasn’t even under the influence of a controlled substance.
I got there too late to see the first opener, Valet, but when I walked in, I saw a pretty unusual sight, not only was there a mass of equipment set up on the floor in front of the stage, but 20-30 people were sitting cross-legged in a semi-circle around said equipment. When one-man act White Rainbow started his set, I wasn’t even aware, but as I glanced around the people in front of me, I found that there was indeed someone now sitting down manning the equipment on the floor. At first I wasn’t sure what to think but the music quickly sucked me in. It was an ambient mix of loops being created live by a bevy of synthesizers and pedals with guitar and vocals thrown in for good measure. My mind began to wander as the music put me in a bit of a trance-like state, and I could swear I smelled incense burning, though I never did find the source. The music ended almost as quickly as it started, about 25 minutes later, after only one long “song,” but it was quite fascinating and just the perfect length.
Atlas Sound took the stage, after a brief break and a few technical difficulties, and launched into “Bite Marks,” from their debut album Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel. The songs on the album are very much a wash of indeterminate sound with vocals layered on top, so it was difficult to imagine how these songs would be recreated live by a five-piece band. Not surprisingly, the songs took on a more “rock” sound, but at the same time maintained the dreamy feel that pervades Atlas Sound’s debut. In between songs frontman Bradford Cox, who seemed to be a bit flu-ish and commented on it several times, broke the audience’s awe with some stage banter that lightened the mood and let us know they were having a good time up on stage, despite the dark sound of the material. He called the most up-tempo song of the night his “Breeders-type song” and introduced one of the evening’s slower songs by saying, “This is a fun one. . . just kidding.” He even launched into the first verse of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” daring his band to follow along.
Despite only playing eight songs, most, if not all, from Let the Blind. . . the show was absolutely captivating. The seated audience members never rose from their feet, even after urging from the bands keyboardist, and Bradford ultimately gave in, telling them, “No it’s cool. . . it’s like church.” But sitting for this show perfectly suited the atmosphere as the gorgeous music washed over the captivated audience. By the time we finally got our bearings, the show was over and I was forced to walk out those doors into the cold which shocked me back into reality and ended my dream.