The Raveonettes w/ Autolux and The Peels (Tuesday, May 10th, First
I have never been one to take for granted the beautiful luxury of going to a rock show. As such, I was appalled that my mother, about to turn 53, had never been to a concert in her life and decided we would celebrate her birthday at First Avenue. It was high time for Mom’s rock & roll baptism…and who better than The Raveonettes to do the dunking? After a few weeks of reluctance, I finally got the answer I was waiting for (“Oh, what the hell.”)
On our way to the club, Mom’s comments became less frequent and more nervous. At the crosswalk: “Oh, God, I’m old.” To the ID checker: “Yeah, like you really want to see my ID.” But once the music started, Mom (much like I always do) tuned right in.
First on the bill was San Francisco’s The Peels. This band sounded like I imagine my garage band would have sounded had I started one when I was 15. And I have a serious problem with self-deprecation. You do the math. For the record, Mom’s reaction: “You might want to add that she’s quite handy with the microphone” (after watching the vocalist spin tractor wheels for the thousandth time), and “Um, they have day jobs, right?”
Next came Autolux. This LA threesome sounded like the sad electronica I always fall for, but they played like a good old fashioned power trio. The songs are riddled with the minor chords that make a song stay with you long after your ears have moved on to other things. While the middle third of the set blended together a little too well, I still enjoyed the other two-thirds enough to forgive. Plus, their drummer (Carla Azar) was easily the most incredible I’ve seen. She beats each beat like she’s been waiting a year for that exact moment—like it’s all she’s ever wanted. Mom’s call: simply, “Haunting.”
If there’s anything in the world I’m good at, it’s talking up a band I like. While trying to get the “Oh, what the hell?” I was looking for, I tossed Mom all of the Raveonettes’ great likenesses I could. “They’re like Buddy Holly but with lots of guitar and bass. You like bass!” “They collaborated with Ronnie Spector from the Ronettes.” “Sune Rose is obsessed with film from the 50s. You were born in the 50s!” I think probably I made her feel a little dated, but it worked. Because when Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner, in all their 6’ blonde bombshell and James Dean glory strutted onto the stage, Mom looked like she felt 15.
The Raveonettes started out slow and steady (just the way I like it) with “You Say You Lie” from their latest release Pretty In Black. I’ll admit to slight distraction from the music while sizing up the new bass player. I love Ms. Foo and her bass, and I was reluctant to welcome anyone new into the mix. When Foo relinquished her bass for a few to concentrate on the mic, I was disappointed purely out of fear of change, but I was quickly proven wrong. Foo’s voice shines in ways I never really realized before and her performance is just that much more mesmerizing. I am quite used to (and quite enamored of) Foo’s ability to blend in with Wagner to create a sort of SharinAndSune super-musician that I can’t separate. But as I watched her take to the microphone for “My Boyfriend’s Back,” I saw for the first time her undeniable ability to be The Frontwoman. Once again, my loyalty to the formula that works is shot to hell. Thank God.
The Raveonettes barreled through 17 songs, playing nearly each track from the new album and peppering it quite well with a few from Chain Gang of Love and Whip It On. During my own ecstatic enjoyment, I tore my eyes away (honestly, it hurts to look away from The Raveonettes) to see how Mom was doing. I dare say I saw a foot-tap or two! I, of course, enjoyed myself immensely. And I’m pretty sure Mom did, too. “Thank you thank you thank you thank you…that was so much fun! I really Really REALLY like that band. I couldn’t sit still!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Traci Hanson is firstname.lastname@example.org
The Raveonettes’ (likely inaccurate) set list: