You Can’t Force a Dance Party

February 17th, 2011

Braids – Mercury Lounge – February 16, 2011

Braids - Mercury Lounge - February 16, 2011
Sandwiched in the middle of Houses and Baths—two solo knobs-and-vocals electronica acts that make your clothes vibrate like your phone were ringing—Montreal’s Braids were a lesson of perfect juxtaposition at Mercury Lounge last night. Somewhere between the old and new, digital and analog, geek and chic, circular and linear, and static and dynamic, the coed quartet packed their 40 minutes with enough sounds and ideas to spread out over a month-long tour.

Playing selections off their recently released debut, Native Speaker, Braids aimed to both hypnotize the crowd and get it moving. Samples and loops provided the background while Raphaelle Standell-Preston set up shimmering riffs on her guitar. The music circled back on itself over and over, seemingly going nowhere until you allowed yourself to step back from the repetition and realize that the songs were also directed, moving in a straight line from beginning to end. Closing your eyes and taking it all in was like seeing a dog chasing its tail, only if the dog had four heads and four tails and was also walking down the street at the same time.

“Lemonade,” played midway through, was the highlight of the set. It exemplifies Braids’ sound with an addictive candy-coated melody, like a 1 lb. bag of M&M’s that’s impossibly empty before you know it. The song ended with a joyous ambient-noise jam, and the propulsion came from the surprisingly deft and tribal drumming of Austin Tufts, who took the psychedelic swirl of guitars and falsetto harmonies and turned them into a brainiac’s dance party. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Diana Wong |