Photos By Clarissa Villondo, Words By Jeb Gavin
Thursday evening I finished work, had a pleasant bite to eat with a pleasant enough girl, drove to Northeast and spiked a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I went dancing. Echostage continued its DiMaggio-like streak of booking the exact right act for however I felt that particular evening- in this case, Cut/Copy and in several shades of out of my mind. The Australian band casts a wide net over tertiary genres like dance-punk and synth pop and just enough acid house to confuse the hell out of me. It’s all crammed asses to elbows on Free Your Mind, the new record they’re touring to support. The title of the album caused me more than a moment’s pause, but I’ll get into that later.
Upon stumbling, shivering into the club, I beat a path upstairs and camped out on a sofa. Normally I’d recommend nightclub sofas with all the assurance you’d get buying secondhand sanitary products, but in this case the sofa was a grumpy but well meaning sea lion stretched out along the back left balcony. Without talking, the sea lion couch made it clear to me so long as I didn’t close my eyes, I wouldn’t get kicked out for looking like I was too high. 20 minutes and one blink later, the band started playing. I think. I didn’t stand up for another 15 minutes, content to sit and listen, and take in the crowd’s reaction.
When I said they’ve got a hard sound to pin down, I wasn’t being facetious. If there’s a single, running comparison to make I suppose you might say Cut/Copy sounds like an Australian Holy Ghost! with live instruments, or at times The Rapture, less the crushing oppression of post-punk New York ennui. Early on in the set there was a particular suite of songs that sounded like The Human League had traveled forward in time to steal and cover select tracks from Bush’s Sixteen Stone. I really hope I didn’t imagine that part, because it sounded amazing.
About this time I got the foolish idea to wander down from my perch and move through the crowd. By and by I was pretty well in the thick of it. Yellow lightning seemed to shoot up from the back of the stage, arcing over the band, bouncing off the panels on the ceiling and firing harmlessly into the crowd. For most of the show the words “free your mind” floated above all, pulsing to the beat, the color of the words and the color of the background changing with the mood of the music. Given my mind felt as though it’d swelled past the point my skull could hold it, I was inclined to acquiesce… except I wasn’t sure I’d ever get the damn thing back in and I needed him for the drive home.
Somewhere along the way I remember seeing an acoustic guitar on stage and hearing a harpsichord (perhaps “Take Me Higher”?) I remembered how much I wanted to see Lemon Jelly even though they’ve been on hiatus since 2008 and didn’t tour the US. Then I wanted lemon jelly candy. Then I got nauseous thinking about real lemon jelly. I did not throw up, but I did go to the bathroom and splash some water on my face. The walk from the club two blocks back to my car felt as though it took twice as long as the 50 minute drive home, mostly because the cold water in my beard didn’t help with the shivers or the sweats. Once home I went to bed for 60 hours. I’d recommend Cut/Copy and Echostage anytime; the flu, not so much.