Duo Thrills Mercury Lounge

September 20th, 2010

El Ten Eleven – Mercury Lounge – September 18, 2010

El Ten Eleven - Mercury Lounge - September 18, 2010
If you had closed your eyes during El Ten Eleven’s set at Mercury Lounge on Saturday, the music may have sounded not entirely different from the glitch rock of Dosh, the band that played just before their set. But with eyes open it was easy to see how different the group approaches that sound. Armed with two different double-necked axes (one neck for bass, one for guitar), Kristian Dunn led the duo with dazzling dexterity on the necks of his guitars and the pedals that he fed and looped his many sounds through. Drummer Tim Fogarty oscillated between a full drum kit and a handful of electronic drum equipment tucked into the corner of his setup, providing a blend of rugged and danceable sounds beneath Dunn’s loops. That flexibility let them wander from jazz-style tracks to songs that could be right off a Faint album.

When Dunn wasn’t speeding through blindingly fast picking and hammering, he orchestrated sounds much larger than a two-piece normally has, but without using his pedals as a crutch. Cleverly constructed lines complemented one another each time they looped around, which allowed Dunn to improvise over them, and just as that action built to a climax he and Fogarty would halt the momentum and move to the next part of the song, toying with and exciting the crowd. In fact the packed house was so attuned to El Ten Eleven’s music that there were distinct moments of call-and-response between the crowd and the band, an odd experience when there are no lyrics to prompt it. This was a pure musician’s set, made especially for those who appreciate music in all of its detailed facets. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane |