Cymbals Eat Guitars at the Entry, 10/19/11

Cymbals Eat Guitars
October 19, 2011
7th St. Entry

Perhaps Cymbals Eat Guitars are so sonically inventive and explosive in the studio that their live show won't ever fully do their songs justice. Or, perhaps they just had an off night. Whatever the case may be, the young New York quartet delivered a tame, tepid sixty-minute set at the Entry Wednesday night, only displaying momentary flashes of their tempestuous, experimental sound before settling back in to what amounted to be a fairly conventional, lackluster set.

It was a very insular performance as well, as frontman Joseph D'Agostino spent more time talking with his band than he did with the small crowd, never forging any type of connection with the audience at all, which gave the songs a distant, impersonal tone that lasted throughout the short set. It seemed as if Cymbals Eat Guitars were playing only for themselves, and the audience was just an inconsequential inconvenience that they did their best to forget about. But it was their disinterested performance that ended up being entirely forgettable.

They opened with a moody version of "Indiana," which started out strong before unraveling towards the end, but "Plainclothes" and "Shore Points" never really caught fire, despite D'Agostino's best attempts to inject some passion into the performance with his vigorous guitar work and shout/singing vocal style. It wasn't until a fiery version of "Definite Dark" before the band found any real momentum, but even that track was plagued by a weird finish where it seemed like both the crowd and the group itself weren't quite sure if the song was over or not.

Cymbals Eat Guitars at the Entry, 10/19/11
Photo By Erik Hess
Cymbals Eat Guitars at the Entry, 10/19/11
Photo By Erik Hess

"Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)" was a wild sonic excursion for the band, but even at the halfway point of the nearly ten-minute track it seemed like the band were just going through the motions. Eventually, D'Agostino hit on a groove and the song sparked into life as he riotously soloed away. It was clearly the best moment of the night, and featured a level of intensity that the band sadly wouldn't reach again. "Cold Spring" was the closest they came, as the track closed with a feisty, untamed spirit led by D'Agostino's piercing guitar.

After a rather flat version of "Secret Family," D'Agostino thanked the crowd, and seemed resigned and a bit defeated when he told us they had one more song. And while the swinging, stormy version of "Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)" was quite good, it just seemed a bit soulless in the end. As the track wound down into a squall of discord, I just couldn't help but wonder where this experimental flair was for the rest of the show. As the band dejectedly sauntered off stage, everyone knew there wasn't going to be an encore, even though they have been playing "Gary Condit" as a standard closer throughout their current tour. Cymbals Eat Guitars obviously didn't want to play one, and the dissatisfied crowd wasn't going to be cheering for them to come back out either.

Cymbals Eat Guitars at the Entry, 10/19/11
Photo By Erik Hess

Critic's Bias: The only other time I saw Cymbals Eat Guitars was far too early on a Saturday afternoon at the 2009 Pitchfork Festival. It was a bold, energetic set, and I couldn't wait to see them in the intimacy of a small club. Sadly, their festival set was far better.

The Crowd: A small turnout that only got smaller as the show went on.

Overheard In The Crowd: "I'm pretty sure those are the only two girls at this show."

Random Notebook Dump: I still love CEG's Lenses Alien, but this rather lifeless performance of a bunch of those new songs might cause me to love it a little less.




Shore Points


Definite Dark

Another Tunguska

Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)

Keep Me Waiting

Cold Spring

Secret Family

Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)

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