Instrumental Illness on a Saturday Night

November 30th, 2009

Do Make Say Think – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 28, 2009

Do Make Say Think

Instrumental music might be a bit misunderstood. Certainly there are some out there who think of it as nothing more than a base coat, a background of sound for dinner parties and the like. What a treat it would have been to personally lead those nonbelievers, Pied Piper-style, into the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night and expose them to the Toronto collective Do Make Say Think. The group, arguably one of the genre’s most inventive, experimental and eclectic, would surely change their minds.

The array of guitars, keyboards, horns and strings that lay in wait onstage moments before DMST’s set merely hinted at the amount of beautiful noise to come. As the nine musicians dug into their first song, “Make,” from their recent album, Other Truths, all (save for the two drummers) lined up in a single a row across the front of the stage, weaving back and forth slightly as instruments took turns at the forefront of the arrangement for a few moments before blending into the composition again. The band’s songs constantly moved, shifting dynamically through tempos and styles to the point where it often became difficult to figure out exactly how they’d gone from point A to point B—intricate basslines and feedback-drenched noise gave way to sunny guitar riffs and delicate woodwind melodies and back again.

Forty-five minutes into their set, after playing several songs essentially without pause, someone in Do Make Say Think jokingly said, “We’re going to play our second song now.” The crowd laughed, almost transfixed enough to believe it, a testament to the time-altering powers that this kind of music possesses. As the group performed the equally energetic second half of their set, complete with dancing, jumping and crowd surfing, Do Make Say Think reinforced that while their songs may be fitting for an Alice in Wonderland-style trippy tea party, their instrumentals will never be dinner-party music. —Alena Kastin