Autolux at the Varsity Theater, 8/18/10
You are always waiting for Autolux in some capacity. After six years between sophomore release Transit Transit and their acclaimed Future Perfect, I'm sure many were ready to give up on the band. A secretive and elusive bunch, they hardly made festival appearances to appease those who were craving to see them, and when they did, they were frequently canceled without explanation. That's because Autolux is a no bullshit type of a band, and while I'm sure they appreciate their fans, in the end it comes down to perfecting their moody brand of music even if you have to wait half a decade. Whatever, they've got nothing on The Avalanches (i.e. 11 years since their debut).
So last night at the Varsity, waiting felt like an eternity -- it wasn't until at least 10:30PM when the trio took the stage, two and a half hours after doors. The crowd, a largely older mix and stinting highly male seemed like the type who have stuck by this band for a very long time. There were a lot of beards, tattoos, and for once normal looking young adults not bleeding American Apparel at the seams. It might be that Autolux's music is too bold and heavy for many people to delve into which indeed is their charm; it weeds out a lot of those attendees just there to be seen, which many of the high-profile concerts coming to the Twin Cities in the coming months will without a doubt fall victim to.
Photos by Erik Hess
The beginning of their set was marked with the identifiable hand-made lighting rigs they make themselves and started slow with the title track from their new album. Right away, it is easy to notice that the band has aged; they have refined their technique, but they are moving a little slower. Eugene Goreshter on bass and Greg Edwards on guitar looked slightly weary, although emotion was difficult to discern with their West Coast haircuts covering their eyes. There were audible "thank you's" even if they were slightly mumbled. As always, Carla Azar looked stunning with her drumkit and it was great to see she wasn't relegated to the back the entire show, coming up to the front for a gorgeous rendition of "The Bouncing Wall" with maraca in tow. She's obviously a strong suit in the band, and thank goodness her shattered elbow (here's a photo of it) a few years back still allows her to play the drums. When she and her two bandmates joined in on harmonies, it was a glorious thing to witness- Autolux's music doesn't set itself up to enjoy that type of arrangement, but their experiments work.
In the end, they played most of their recent release, "Audience No. 2" a polished stand-out, most likely because they released it as a single all the way back in 2008, and of course no show would be complete without "Angry Candy," arguably a track which got a lot of people into this band.
Autolux makes music for our dreary Minnesota winters; when we want to hole ourselves up in our abodes and hate ourselves for living in a place that seems to want to punish the general population with snow, we'll always have these slightly morose but hopeful tracks to keep our brooding at a safe level. Who knows what is next for this band- on the heels from some select unimpressive reviews for Transit Transit which complain that the band made everyone wait too long for the same sound they heard six years ago, it's fair to note that Autolux is still only on their 2nd album, and if you liked Future Perfect, I really can't understand why you wouldn't remotely like the follow-up. Either way, you have to admit that this trio makes brilliantly simple music which strikes a resonance in a lot of us. They are in transit to a new future (excuse the shoddy pun), but it really is a good way to describe where they're at.
Critic's Bias: I think Transit Transit is easily one of the best albums this year and my fawning for them this past month has been a little excessive.
The Crowd: Older, respectful, grungy Midwestern, a lot of beer but obnoxious fans were almost nonexistent.
Overheard Overseen in the Crowd: A woman with faux-cat ears on her head.
Random Notebook Dump: The Varsity was looking really great last night. Every table was filled, people were dispersed in every direction, and it all looked very swanky. I really hope this venue continues to grow- one of my favorites.
Openers This Will Destroy You
Photos by Erik Hess
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