October 5, 2011 in Music
CONTEST HAS ENDED!
The first time that I saw Manhattan‘s GANG GANG DANCE perform was in 2005 at Chop Suey in Seattle. At the time, they were touring in support of their highly impressive breakout release, God’s Money. The set culminated in having their sound shut off by the venue and with the band, in turn, piecing out their drumkit to the audience members and encouraging them to take part in an impromptu moment of tribal defiance. Six cop cars showed up (a bit excessive). It was labeled a “riot” (a bit of an exaggeration). Three years later I was emailed a press kit for GGD by their then-label, Social Registry. The bio included mention of the, now infamous, Chop Suey show. The myth had grown. Much of Gang Gang Dance‘s notoriety and legend has snowballed in a similar manner.
When I saw them in 2008, their follow up full-length, Saint Dymphna, had just been released. They came back to Seattle, but this time it was in a headlining spot over Kill Rock Stars guitar tapping shredder, Marnie Stern and the show was held at the swanky Triple Door jazz club. It was a very different scene, but their energy was still the same. They have tons of it and their ability to adapt and shape-shift goes hand in hand with the metamorphic nature of their improv-rooted approach to music and creation. The release was solid, but it’s taken 4 years for the group to come through with their next -and most recent- follow up, the critically acclaimed, Eye Contact. A lot has changed. The band now has 5 members, instead of 4. Founding member/drummer, Tim Dewitt quit and was replaced. The group has transferred labels to 4AD. The album is a hybrid of the more polished sound that they’ve gradually been moving towards, while embracing the long extended build-ups that they explored in their earliest work. What hasn’t changed is the inability to categorize them. Electronic, tribal futuristic, experimental, noise jams? Another thing that’s remained is the constant mystery about what the art/music collective will deliver next.
If you’re a fan of Gang Gang Dance, you need to experience them live. If you aren’t, seeing them live very well might make you one. Beyond their work in the music game, the members are all accomplished visual artists; even performing a mixed media live performance as part of the 2008 Whitney Biennial. When I interviewed keyboardist/founding member, Brian Degraw back in March, he expressed their intention of adding even more stimuli to enhance their live shows: “We really want to incorporate a more visual and theatrical element to the stage when we perform.”
On Friday of next week, GGD returns to Seattle. This time they will be performing at Neumos and, thanks to the venue, we will be giving away a pair of tickets to attend the show for FREE! Check out the details for the contest after this video of the group performing “Glass Jar“, the 11.5-minute epic lead off track from the new album. Read the rest of this entry →