Telefon Tel Aviv Returns to NYC StageSeptember 14th, 2009
Telefon Tel Aviv – Mercury Lounge – September 12, 2009
This past Saturday night, a sold-out crowd packed into Mercury Lounge for a late show by the Chicago-based electronic group Telefon Tel Aviv. On the surface, it was just another night, with people drinking and talking between sets and equipment being set up onstage. However, earlier this year, it seemed uncertain whether this show would ever happen. The tragic and untimely passing of Charles Cooper, one half of the duo, understandably put the group’s future in jeopardy. So as Telefon Tel Aviv founder Joshua Eustis, along with friend and tour mate Fredo Nogueira, took the stage before a crowded room, the scene felt especially meaningful. Despite all the odds, Telefon Tel Aviv was here, and we came out in strong support.
Touring behind its third LP, Immolate Yourself, Telefon Tel Aviv showed its musical range over the course of a concise set. Songs like “Your Mouth” and “You Are the Worst Thing in the World” channeled Depeche Mode’s dark ’80s dance anthems, while other songs lingered on hypnotic ambient drones. As we unwound and lingered in the more subdued moments, the duo knew precisely the right moment to drop a beat that slowly got us dancing again. As he sang, Eustis manipulated his vocals quite effectively, at times bringing them to the forefront of the music, confrontational and direct, and at other moments, chopping, splicing and obscuring them until they simply blended in to the music and floated away. I think we all felt lucky to experience this show. It was a night of beautiful, intricate and often emotional music, and for Telefon Tel Aviv, it was hopefully some form of catharsis. —Alena Kastin