Twin Shadow//Chad Valley//Weird Era ~ The Deaf Institute ~ 26.01.11

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011, 2:57 pm

Weird Era indeed

By Chester Whelks  Photos: Kitty Saros

“…they should have put on ‘Kill Bill’ or ‘Jurassic Park’ behind them…” remarks someone from over my left shoulder. In an editorial decision more befitting their set (and it transpires, the night as a whole), Weird Era opt instead for projecting Joel Schumacher’s eternal stay-of-execution-earning: ‘The Lost Boys’ across the stage. As Kiefer Sutherland and his bemulleted, undead-brethren infest Max’s video store; the PA abates, and Weird Era undertake a semi-embarrassing last minute sound check, which is laughed-off by the drummer who defiantly punches them into their set.

Weird Era’s drum propelled, twin-guitar-pronged-assault invokes a distorted squall of reverberation, amply taking the absent Bass’s place, which swells inexorably to fill every last inch of space in the Deaf Institute’s auditorium, including that section in your head reserved for bar-bill calculus & bus timetables. Either they’ve opted for volume over all else, like My Bloody Valentine to whom they bear a passing stylistic resemblance, or as indicated by the last minute preparations, the sound engineer has done them a disservice (which the soundboard’s sneeze-guard in a down-position seems to attest). Despite this affront, be it self, or sound engineer inflicted, Weird Era have enough of a guarded yet diminutively pleading undercurrent to their sonic onslaught, with enough curveball chord changes to tractor-beam your enduring interest.


After taking the stage and coaxing a slow build of droning harmonious chords from his hodge-podge console, Hugo Manuel begins dossing-about in the upper echelons of his impressive vocal register, swaying the naysayers into his Chad Valley encampment.

On first impressions, he’s like an Antony Hegarty you could actually stand to be around: devoid of that annoying uvula-orbiting honk, that makes him sound like holder of the dubious honour of being winner of a ‘Golf Ball though the Garden Hose’ competition.

He  undertakes his trade with beautiful pop aplomb, and unlike some of his contemporaries, obviously bossed this songwriting business years ago from his beloved mothers’ top floor. He seems more like a resident of this 80s related territory than self-annointed patriarchs like Ariel Pink, who I’d certainly side-with in overall superiority stakes, but is a persistent recidivist of all-knowing ulterior motives than the earnest and forward-looking Chad Valley, for whom this all seems intrinsic.

Hugo jaunts through his hotly touted eponymous E.P. and elsewhere, going down like a birthday Blow Job: A distantly familiar, pleasantly welcome surprise.


While Twin Shadow’s band make the final preparations to their instruments, the girl next to me asks which of the players setting-up is the celebrated George Lewis Jr. While I know very little about Twin Shadow, it would be folly to place your bet anywhere other than on the guy who looked as though some fluffy rook had deigned to rest atop his head to get a good look at the massive black caterpillar traversing his upper lip.

“I’ve been waiting 11 years to play here.” declares George, stroking the predictable approval hoots from the audience. Which begs the question of what exactly occurred 11 years ago to attract him? Is this retaliation for Oasis’s ‘Standing on the Shoulder of Giants’? Twin Shadow begins ‘Shooting Holes’ at us.

George sets his hips a-shimmying, in collusion with chiggity upper-fret Telecaster masturbation atop a swirling and slightly murky 80s synth that sways nauseously in & out of tune. The setlist is expertly littered with poignant moments sounding as though they’ve come straight from all your favourite 80s heartbreaks. John Hughes must have seen his life snail its way past his eyes for months before he died, and is now tornado-ing in his urn, while the folks down below Robot-their shoulders in a show of cool-approval.

While the final scheduled song of the night suavely clinks around like ice cubes in Martini, I find myself exasperated by what’s on display. I can’t fault Twin Shadow’s skill as a songwriter; The undead 80s that’s taken the stage could well have leaked out of the projector along with ‘The Lost Boys’. The level of love and craftsmanship involved in perfecting such a faithful recreation has to be applauded, but while I stay for one song beyond the encore, the part of my brain used to account for beer funds & time before the next bus is free to run dully amok, and reminds me I have neither left.


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