A Great Saturday Bill at Mercury Lounge

February 6th, 2012

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks/La Big Vic – Mercury Lounge – February 4, 2012

La Big Vic

After a reverb-heavy swinging set from Family Portrait on Saturday night at Mercury Lounge, next up came Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, a spin-off from indie-jammers Real Estate, the Frasier to their Cheers. Bleeker, who plays bass in Real Estate but naturally moves to guitar and lead vocals in his own band, requested dim purple lights as the group tuned up with psychedelic swirls behind him. A quick-hit love song made way for a pitch-perfect Grateful Dead transition jam with two lead guitars fluttering around each other like playful birds. It was an impressive “our second team can beat your starters” stretch of music, all loose and nebulous. As the jam melted into more terrestrial roots rock, the ragged nature persisted, giving a cozy just-friends-watching-a-rehearsal feel for the crowd.

La Big Vic finished the night. Gone were the dim purples, in fact, gone was all color whatsoever. In lieu of lights, the band projected images from a laptop on a white sheet. The images were completely black and white giving the whole band in front of it a drained-of-color look. The music was a hypnotic, electronic after-midnight collection of synthesizers, violin, trumpet and guitar burying Emilie Friedland’s voice. As gray digital jellyfish swam across the back wall, the music was equally aquatic, the kind of buzz-enhancing trip-hop you might stumble upon in some early-morning subterranean club scene. —A. Stein