Phoenix, Dogs Die in Hot Cars and Joy Zipper (Monday, April 11th,
2005, Fine Line Music Café, Minneapolis)
By David de Young
Friday, I ended up at the Fine Line at a killer triple bill. Going into the show, I had familiarity with only one band -- Dogs Die in Hot Cars. As it turned out, when the night was over, it was the other two bands that left the most lasting impression on me: Long Island’s Joy Zipper and France’s Phoenix.
I was in the balcony enjoying a dinner of selections from the Fine Line’s International Menu when Joy Zipper took the stage a little after 9. Joy Zipper is built around real-life partners Tabitha Tindale (keyboard/vocals) and Vinny Cafiso (guitar/vocals.) They opened with a brand new song called “Window” that has yet to be recorded.(This information comes to me courtesy of Joy Zipper’s touring bass player Dan Donnely, who kindly wrote out the set list for me after the show as zealous fans--and there were plenty at the show--had grabbed all the set lists from the stage before I remembered I would probably need one.)
I jotted down a few sentence fragments while finishing off my Quesadillas: Psychedelic. Groovin’. Like a slow, droning, more melodic Dandy Warhols. Elements of Sonic Youth. Later in the set, Minnesota’s own Low would come to mind.
Joy Zipper’s second song “Ron” was an early set highlight. Ron is a “that was then, this is now” tale where a change of heart takes place: “Now we’re growing old, and you’re a jerk.” There were scintillating hints of The Jesus and Mary Chain in the guitar on the soaring chorus, and I could understand why the crowd on the main floor had moved in close to the stage so quickly. Joy Zipper's music is inviting, even if you aren’t familiar with it. I finished eating quickly and headed downstairs to get closer to the band.
Joy Zipper followed up with “Check Out My New Jesus,” “Dosed” and “Out Of The Sun.” (Watch the inspirational as well as amusing video here. Tindale played beautiful string parts on her keyboard, and really seemed to be enjoying herself. Towards the end of the set came “Christmas Song,” the second song from their latest release American Whip. The song rocked a bit in the middle, and “rocked” isn’t a word that would typically be used to describe this band. More appropriate terms relate to pleasant dissonances and overtones of the vocal harmonies. My only wish was that I had had the chance to hear the CD once or twice before the show. But no matter; after half a dozen listens to the CD, it’s about the best $10 I’ve spent lately. A newly converted fan, I am proud to say I became the bands 500th MySpacer (seriously, they were at 499 when I clicked “Add me.”) Join them yourself at http://www.myspace.com/joyzipper.
It’s your turn to learn about Joy Zipper now. Watch their videos and listen to the songs in the links below, and I’ll see you at their next show.
Dogs Die in Hot Cars
The ska-influenced 2003 single, “I Love You Because I Have To” by Scotland’s Dogs Die in Hot Cars has been being played on UK radio for a while. (An interesting aside, early on while the band was touring in support of that first single, vocalist/guitarist Craig Macintosh was electrocuted during a show they played at Dundee, Scotland’s Cotton Club. Despite suffering burns on his hands, Macintosh was able to continue the tour.)
Friday at the Fine Line, the band started out with “Apples And Oranges” from their full-length debut Please Describe Yourself. The song had a Stranglers-like harpsichord synth line. The five piece band didn’t waste time and got to their hit as their 3rd song. Macintosh’s stage presence sometimes reminded me of Rick Springfield (or what I would imagine it to be from his videos, as I never saw the Working Class Dog live). In his black shirt, if it wasn’t for his frizzed out hairdo that made him look a little like Steve Bays from Hot Hot Heat, Macintosh might have looked a little like him too. I think it was the angular, marching from the hip guitar style.
During the fourth song “Who Shot The Baby?” I found myself wondering why keyboard player Ruth Quigley was so hidden over in the corner stage left. Or maybe she just seemed hidden after watching 45 minutes of Joy Zipper with Tabitha Tindale right up at the front of the stage.
Macintosh did a song by himself on an acoustic guitar. Then the full band came back for “I Love Lucy” that had XTC’ish vocals. Actually, come to think of it, all DDIHC’s vocals are reminiscent of XTC’s. (One writer said DDDICH sound like XTC fronted by The Proclaimers.) Though the next song reminded me of a bouncier, heavier Snow Patrol.
Macintosh introduced “Godhopping” by saying it had nothing to do with God and nothing to do with hopping. Then he introduced Laurence Davey on drums. “Godhopping” brought back memories of Big Country (also from Scotland, by the way), another comparison the music writers have been tossing off.
Read another live review from our friends at Gigwise.com.
All Music Guide tells me Phoenix got their touring start on the French bar circuit doing Hank Williams and Prince covers to drunk audiences. They’ve also backed Air on several UK TV Appearances. In their headline slot at the Fine Line Monday they had everyone dancing from the first song, “Too Young” from their acclaimed 2000 release United. “This is Phoenix coming from Paris,” lead singer Thomas Mars said, after the opening song. Following the next song, Mars said “Thank you. Merci beaucoup,” and for a moment I imagined I was back in Europe where thank you’s often come in multiple languages. (Thank you. Vielen dank. Tak tak. Cheers. Etc.)
Next was one of the band’s biggest hits, “Run Run Run” which I must have heard on The Current (89.3 KCMP St. Paul ) or XFM London, because though I didn’t think I was familiar with the band, I had definitely heard this song. Jesse Stensby of Vitriol Radio, standing next to me, suggested that Phoenix’s Alphabetical (Astralwerks, 2004) just might be the sexiest record released last year.
Mid-song, vocalist Thomas Mars told the audience to clap, and overhand clapping ensued. Then the song bottomed out to a just light cymbal beat during which the band froze on stage, and the club became quiet for long enough to make people start to feel uncomfortable. The audience began to shout various things, including “Oi!” and you could see the faint smiles on the faces of the band members who undoubtedly pull this trick frequently and enjoy the control you can have over an audience by doing next to nothing for an awkwardly long period of time. Then the band said, “Say, ‘Come on!’” and the mike was held to the crowd to make even more noise. Then boom! The band was back to the song.
Before I close this review, I should mention the exuberance of some guy
at a table in the balcony who threw a pair of “panties” down
onto the stage that landed right in front of the drum riser. As he screamed
for Thomas Mars to pick them up, his friend said “Settle down, dude.”
Mars eventually looked up at the rabid fan (who was a mere 15 feet away),
then down at the “panties” on the stage, and said a somewhat
confused, but still polite, “Thank you.”
David de Young is email@example.com