Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dirty Beaches, A Victim Of Society, live @ Bios (Athens, October 11, 2011)

The spirit of primal '50s rock’n’roll was very much alive last Tuesday night at Bios, the venue that played host to Dirty Beaches’ first ever Athenian show. It hasn’t been long since the release of "Badlands", Dirty Beaches’ debut album, but it seems that the lo-fi nostalgic sounds of Alex Zhang Hungtai’s project have struck a chord with the local indie crowd that formed disorderly queues outside the club from early on and eventually filled it to capacity.

Dirty Beaches, live @ Bios (Athens, Oct. 11, 2011)
The night’s first invocations to rock’n’roll’s wild early days started even before Dirty Beaches took to the stage, with the energetic forty-minute performance of local act A Victim Of Society. Despite the two-piece band’s reliance on modern technology for beats and other sounds (a laptop computer), their main influence comes from primitive garage rock and surf music. A twin guitar assault, experimental attitude and vocals that sounded like the product of a telephone interception (they used an old phone’s headset instead of a microphone) completed A Victim Of Society’s very interesting sound puzzle that got even better towards the end of their set, when their beats started revealing electronic and dance music influences.

A Victim Of Society, live @ Bios (Athens, Oct. 11, 2011)
At a quarter to midnight it was time for Alex Zhang Hungtai’s band to take to the stage and fill Bios with the haunted jukebox sounds of "Badlands". For this European tour Dirty Beaches’ lineup is completed by saxophonist Francesco De Gallo who adds a jazzy dimension to Alex’s early rock’n’roll barebones guitar melodies. All other sounds and beats come courtesy of modern technology but the overall feeling of Dirty Beaches’ music comes from the era of Elvis Presley and Screamin' Jay Hawkins as filtered through the punk and garage rock influences of later day heroes like Suicide or The Cramps.

Dirty Beaches, live @ Bios (Athens, Oct. 11, 2011)
During the live performance some new elements, not evident in the album, come to focus. At times when Alex lays down the guitar and just sings and shouts to the beat, he brings to mind a rapper possessed by the spirit of James Brown, while at other moments, and especially during a cover of a DNA song, no-wave and noise rock influences come to play. The two-man set up is not always enough to do justice to some of the heavier tunes that would be better served with a drummer, but overall Alex with the help of Francesco did a great job of fleshing out the idiosyncratic sound of Dirty Beaches’ older and new material.

Here’s our video for "Horses", one of the highlights of the night, which was also featured in Dirty Beaches’ blog here, with the mention that this is Alex’s favorite version of "Horses" he has ever played live, with Frankie really nailing it on the saxophone:

Dirty Beaches - Horses, live @ Bios (Athens, Oct. 11, 2011)

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