Telekinesis Lifts Audience’s Spirits

June 16th, 2009

Telekinesis – Mercury Lounge – June 14, 2009

(Photo: Jenny Jimenez)

(Photo: Jenny Jimenez)

Michael Benjamin Lerner, the shaggy-haired, unassuming singer-songwriter of Seattle’s Telekinesis, took the stage at Mercury Lounge on Sunday night with his band. He’s a young guy who looks much like someone you might know—your neighbor, officemate, fellow subway commuter. As the band set up its gear, I witnessed him dutifully put in a pair of earplugs he had retrieved from a little pouch in his jeans pocket. Nothing about Lerner’s demeanor seemed to hint at the transformation that would occur moments later when Telekinesis began to play. Strumming gently on guitar for the opening lines of “Foreign Room,” from the band’s recent self-titled album, Lerner then handed off the instrument to his bandmate and took a seat behind his drum kit, instantly pounding away and singing with an exuberance and vigor quite incongruous with the modest gentleman who had stepped upon the stage.

Though Lerner may resemble your bookish classmate upon first impression, (he even joked that he felt like Where’s Waldo in his new red-and-white-striped polo shirt), do not be fooled. Lerner’s true inner world emerges onstage, expressed by some of the most catchy pop hooks and heartfelt, genuine lyrics this side of the ’60s. As Telekinesis powered through lively songs like “Tokyo” and “Great Lakes,” their sound called to mind the perfect high school garage band that all those ’80s teen movies tried to convince you really exist, but, sadly, never do—youthful, optimistic, rambunctious, a touch raw. Though the band makes no claims to practice the actual act of telekinesis, I think it’s safe to say that through some special force, we all left the show feeling a little bit bouncier. —Alena Kastin