Bradford Cox Needs to Give Himself Some Credit

October 22nd, 2009

Atlas Sound – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 21, 2009

(Photo: Diana Wong)

(Photo: Diana Wong)

“The show’s completely off the rails now,” joked Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox, performing last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg as his solo side project, Atlas Sound. Somehow a simple broken guitar string had brought the set to a standstill, initiating a chain reaction of antics: Inexplicable song requests from the crowd (“Rock Around the Clock,” “Monster Mash”), a series of groan-inducing jokes and Cox’s decision to strike a few poses for all the hungry photographers in the crowd eager to snap away. “This is my socially conscious pose,” said Cox, strumming some Dylan chords and staring introspectively at the ceiling.

“Did you think it was pretty professional before all that shit happened?” Cox later inquired. Come to think of it, Atlas Sound’s set had been pretty professional up to that point. Cox (wearing a very sensible brown suit) had started the show with a haunting version of “My Halo” from Atlas Sound’s newest album, Logos (just released on Tuesday), his voice strong and stark, accompanied simply by keyboard. Joined shortly thereafter by his backing band, Atlas Sound played meticulous renditions of songs like “Walkabout” and “Sheila,” easily recreating the ethereal moments within their spacey, densely layered psych-shoegaze.

Later on, Cox partially chalked his “derailment” up to nerves—noting that the retro space-pop masters Broadcast, who had performed a transfixing opening set accompanied by trippy 1960s-era video art, were a tough act to follow. Though they were impressive, could Cox truly have such shakable confidence? After all, when he returned solo for an encore—creating a looped guitar and harmonica sample, walking around the stage as he played both guitar and drums, and timing his singing between different mikes—Bradford Cox was able to personally embody Atlas Sound. It was a complete song, nearly effortless. For moments like this, hopefully Cox will come to give himself more credit. I must say, when he was able to focus, it was certainly quite professional. —Alena Kastin