Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Late review: Teen

OK, so first I hyped that Teen show like crazy, just to then never tell you how that actually went. Well, children, let me tell you a tale from back in March.

I mostly discover new music through my own blog, through The Craze. This may sound weird but that is how it goes. When I enter gigs into the calendar, I always give them a quick listen to see whether I actually think they are worthy of our calendar. Sometimes I like what I hear and I may do a little research on the artist. Sometimes I really like what I hear and I get semi-obsessed for a while. This is what happened to me with Teen.

Once I had listened to "Better" and watched the DIY video the band had made for this, there was no turning back. It was only when I started reading up about these femmes that I discovered the Here We Go Magic connection, another band that I am rather fond of, though maybe not as consistently. Here We Go Magic really do have magically beautiful pop songs, but a lot of fillers too, I guess. Their sound is also commerically digestible enough that even though I do love their records, it doesn't make you feel cool and special for listening to them. This may sound incredibly pretentious - and I am well aware of that - though it's the truth and, I dare say, not just for me. Every band that really fastinates you usually gives you the listening pleasure paired with a je-ne-sais-quoi that helps you feel cool at the same time.

Teen gave me this feeling instantly. The songs on "In Limbo" are catchy yet have a certain beat, guitar grittiness, and organ weirdness, which, when listened to in the car or with headphones while walking the streets, make you feel très special. Every person who I gave a ride to while listening to Teen would instantly ask "Who is this?". How cool was I?

Mostly though, and we are going back to just music, the songs just caught my attention. I started listening to the album on a daily basis, getting to know each song like they were nursery rhymes, the way you do when you first discover music in your bedroom at 15. Last time I felt that way was after seeing Moon Duo live for the first time and then getting obsessed with their debut album "Mazes", though I have since learned that that band can actually still grow. "Circles" is an even better album and Moon Duo have stuck with me. Could the same be said for Teen?

The build up the gig was getting immense. We were given tickets to give away and I was awarded a rather sizable guest list for my self-motivated promotion of the gig. For weeks it was mentioned in our household at least once a day. To be honest, it has seldomly served a purpose when I have gotten over-excited about a show. Chances of being let down in the end just increase by every bit of excitment you are adding. Luckily, on this occasion, I was not being let down - by the band at least.

Kristina Lieberson and her fellow ladies must have been fairly disappointed at the relatively poor turn out at their first Berlin gig. In case you do not know: In indie USA, Berlin is the coolest place you could possibly be. On my travels, whenever I am asked where I am from and my answer is "Berlin", people gape in awe and I instantly become their object of desire. Equally, when bands tour Europe, it is always London and Berlin that they are keen to play, maybe Budapest and Prague, too. So a half-empty Comet Club must have come as a let down to the four ladies on stage. 

Non the less, the band played a long set, mixing their hits from In Limbo nicely with the new material of the EP, which is being released this week in May, as I write this. Live, the band add some musical energy and free elements to the songs, giving the whole project an artistic edge. As far as performance goes, there is still some staticism that you often witness with relatively new projects. Also, quite a few of the band's songs have long, dragged out endings, which maybe does not offer itself to rock antics or the likes. 

That being said, I was fascinated. These women were not making a point of being girls but were also not trying to be men. As a self-proclaimed feminist, I would like to not even mention the gender of the musicians on stage, I would like to not even point out anything to that effect. But when asking friends how they liked it after the gig, I would hear comments like "those girl drummers never quite drum like men" or "these girls rock like men". It is daft. Are men the real rock'n'rollers and any music women make gets compared to that? What is this, 1954? So to me, the fact that the artists on stage were so comfortable in playing these really good melodies, drawing the audience in through artistic performance, just gave me pleasure. F**k those comparisons. Here was a great band giving a great concert. 

Sure, I would have liked a big turn out, an excited band who were playing the best gig of their tour, an animated audience interacting with the musicians. I would have really wanted all that. But you can't always get what you want, as they say. So I settled for one of the best musical performances this year, for amazing women I would want to be in a band with, for inspiration. And I was indeed very happy with all that.

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