Handsome Furs Bring Inentsity and Intimacy to The Bowery Ballroom

July 8th, 2009

Handsome Furs – The Bowery Ballroom – July 7, 2009

Handsome FursThe opening show of Handsome Furs’ five-month tour began last night at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom with the song “Legal Tender,” off their latest album, Face Control. Married duo Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry appeared sincerely excited to play New York City, even as Boeckner said, “I’m always scared shitless to play here. The first time I ever played this room I threw up in a beer cooler upstairs.” He had nothing to worry about. The bass-shaking, stripped-down drum machine against his guitar’s tortured distortion was the perfect contrast of sounds no one had ever thought of, let alone pulled off with this kind of intensity.

Boeckner threw himself into every song, channeling a working-class, old-school rock and roll archetype in cut-off sleeves, singing himself hoarse about the universal themes of growing up in a dump and the oppression of the city—but with a contemporary, minimalist jagged edge. He seemed like he was trying to keep himself from pouncing offstage at any given moment, straining to spit out every word. Meanwhile, Perry did push-ups on the table of synths and sequencers, keeping time, while trying to drive her right foot straight through the floor. It was exhausting just watching the two of them. Perry was glued to Boeckner’s every move, intensely watching him for changes. And when they put their heads together and whispered, there was a raw closeness you can’t appreciate on their records, but it’s what makes them such an overwhelming force live. —Jason Dean

(Handsome Furs play Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight.)