November 4, 2009

Live Review: The Yearbooks, Bengal Lancer, Netherfriends


Schuba's Tavern // Chicago, IL // Sept. 30, 2009

Let it be said that the back room of Schuba's Tavern in Belmont sports lovely interior d├ęcor behind the excellent bands it houses. Everything is wood-trimmed, the walls are nice autumn colors – the whole space glows a little bit. The warm, jangly licks of the Yearbooks' guitars only added to the sensation. The Chicago fivesome seemed to echo poppy post-punk acts like the Strokes, but with a fair degree of nostalgia for the decades preceding the genre. The set included a direct tribute to one of the band's influences in the form of a cover of the eternally catchy “Love My Way” by the Psychedelic Furs. The band carried themselves in boyishly charming fashion throughout, flirting with the audience, bopping around to their own sunny riffs – positively adorable. I'd like a copy in my living room please.

Bengal Lancer

Bengal Lancer amped up the volume with their solid guitar rock with an ear for harmony. Vocalist Robin oscillated several times between her guitar and keyboard. Some of the set's best moments came when she was seated at the latter; the band's flair for the dramatic took flight as they constructed intense melodic dynamics. The band apparently only played in half its true form; musician friends were filling in for both rhythm guitar and drums. The sound did not suffer whatsoever, though their stand-in guitarist seemed a little crowd-shy compared to Robin and bassist and vocalist Ryan. Despite their theatrical sound, Bengal Lancer were not pretentious in the slightest. More often than not, everyone on stage would smile through the songs.


Netherfriends brought the folktronica, armed with guitars, samplers and pedals. Lead vocalist and creative engine Shawn Rosenblatt was possessed of a manic energy as he commanded a good fraction of the onstage equipment. Harmonizing with himself via sampler, he built undeniably catchy hooks out of the undeniably strange. Clicks and beeps and madness all filled the stage atop a solid backbone of pop-rock. Rosenblatt would occasionally thwack an odd apparatus that he claimed he built as a replacement for a broken snare. Whether true accident or gimmick, it was a pleasure to watch. Netherfriends rounded off the psychedelic set with orchestral swoons replete with trumpet loops and other such flourishes. A less silly Animal Collective, they certainly captivated.

-Sasha Geffen

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