all words: Zachary Goldbaum
all photos: Sally Simms
There’s not a song on Relayted that picks up faster than 69 bpm’s, so I went into Gayngs’ Tuesday night show at the Black Cat with a bit of skepticism, fearing that I’d be bored and disengaged. Fortunately, Gayngs’ performance debunked my concerns about slow jams and kept the audience and myself sufficiently entertained.
Glasser opened the night with impressive vocals but lacked the energy an opening act needs to woo a distracted audience. Glasser is the moniker of up-and-comer Cameron Mesirow whose voice evokes a blend of Florence and the Machine and an ethereal, almost mystical airiness (but dances . Despite the absence of vigor, Glasser proved to be an appropriately groovy segueway into the musical stylings of the boys from Gayngs.
The lights dimmed and the men of Gayngs strutted up in an array of hats, sunglasses, and beards. The eleven guys that filled the stage represented only a truncated portion of the twenty-three band members that recorded the album. Ivan Howard of the Rosebuds posted up center stage and played front man, but got tons of singing help from the likes of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Solid Gold’s Zach Coulter. The rest of the guys pitched in by supplying perfect harmonies, none better than their rendition of Godley and Creme’s “Cry.” There’s nothing more endearing than hearing eleven grown men singing, “You make me want to cry” in unison. Ryan Olson kept his perch in the back by his Mac for most of the show, quietly orchestrating his project from the rear.
Olson attempts to give value to some of the lamest additions to popular music: the soprano sax and auto-tune. And it’s working. Michael Lewis puts his mouth to that soprano sax (the same instrument that Kenny G has molested for decades), manhandles it like a guitar, and teaches it to rock. He goes on to do the same with a tenor sax and a baritone sax and begs the question: why isn’t the saxophone still the coolest instrument, damn it? And concurrently makes the statement: the saxophone is the coolest instrument, damn it. Auto-tune has gotten a lot of flack for being able to transpose bad singing into acceptable singing. But Justin Vernon’s haunting falsetto is incredible, and auto-tune just adds a new element to his already unique voice. What’s more, by incorporating it, Gayngs thumbs their noses at all the pretentious musical elite who have looked down upon its use.
Gayngs performance captured the precision of the album, a true feat considering this sizable group played their first show in May of this year. Despite their brief existence, there’s a palpable camaraderie amongst these Midwesterns that wasn’t lost upon the audience. By the end, they had the crowd throwing up “Gayngs” signs (thumbs up, middle fingers out) and calling for a 10cc reunion tour.