ARCHIVE of District of Cacophony

February 25, 2010 | REVIEWS

The Clientele @ Black Cat, 2/23/10

I didn’t know much about The Clientele, but what I knew I basically liked, so I was amenable to checking them out when a friend had an extra ticket. I liked them and would like to check them out more. They reminded me of all kinds of stuff, all of it good: Galaxie 500, Spiritualized, The Velvet Underground, 4AD bands, Britpop bands, the Jesus and Mary Chain… basically they reminded me of every VU-influenced pop band, especially the British ones.

They were also interesting to watch. My friend and I couldn’t figure out how the main guy, Alasdair MacLean, can play guitar sans pick like that — I mean the plucking and fingerpicking, sure, but the strumming just looked painful to watch. His fingers and knuckles must be all weirdly calloused — maybe too much so to be hooking up with the hot elfin violinist who was part of the band? We can only dream.

I hadn’t seen a rock band in this melancholy English style in a long time so I was pretty happy to have made it. When, on their next-to-last song, they finally broke into an extended noisy breakdown a la Yo La Tengo, I felt even more satisfied. I will be investigating this band more in the future.

Openers Vetiver didn’t do so much for me, though. They started out as rather pleasant but bland pop music, got a little more rocking part-way through, but never really did much that was interesting. It all sounded like a re-hash of ’60s sunshine pop — from the Byrds to the Monkees — and early ’70s folk-rock like The Band. My friend at some point mentioned how they kind of sounded like the Grateful Dead and I was suddenly like, “yeah! exactly! They sound a lot like the Dead!” And this is ok but not really something I want to see very often. There is something weird about an “indie” band that sounds like the Dead. I don’t hate the Grateful Dead or anything, but I like my pleasant folk music to have at least a trace of a punk-influenced edge. If I have to travel back to 1968 I would mostly steer clear of the San Francisco scene — either New York or London for time-travellin’ me! Or maybe Memphis.

Anyway, I didn’t mind Vetiver but wouldn’t seek them out again.