Handsome Furs Unite Genres and Audiences

August 19th, 2011

Handsome Furs – The Bowery Ballroom – August 18, 2011

William Gibson once said that people are most comfortable living about a decade behind the current state of technology because glimpses into the future and the possibilities for change are just too terrifying to confront head on. Handsome Furs have been offering up their own exhilarating alternative vision of the future of music since Plague Park and show no signs of letting up anytime soon.

Dan Boeckner’s wife, Alexei Perry, has an impossible amount of energy for having been performing for five years, and at The Bowery Ballroom she was bent over an array of electronics, head banging, a mess of hair flying, stomping in short shorts along to the shaking bass. Boeckner matched her intensity, forehead pressed to hers, pounding away at his distorted guitar, screaming about “Memories of the Future,” all in front of nonstop smoke machines and green lasers. They’ve hit on universal themes of alienation and the information implosion again on their latest, Sound Kapital, which has resonated with audiences all over the world.

“We just got back to the USA … just a couple of days ago. We’re undergoing massive culture shock because we were in Kosovo and then Boston last night.” A lot of Handsome Furs’ new material made up the set last night—“When I Get Back” and “Serve the People” being particular standouts—which fit seamlessly into their entire catalog. The duo’s real contribution to contemporary music has been to inject a tired, androgynous dance genre with a macho energy and tortured guitar solos. The inhuman, metronome electronics combined with Boeckner’s all-too-human raspy howl and melodic, guitar-based songwriting is their own completely unique niche that brings together both indie and electronic audiences. As alarming as tomorrow might be, Handsome Furs make it impossible to resist. —Jason Dean

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg