If you ever want to emphasize the musical integrity of a live performance, it’s a great idea to hire someone like Alan Resnick to render a bizarre, green-screen-avatar-“comedy”-act before the music starts. This way, after leaving everyone doused with an inexplicably awkward humor routine by the young Billy Mays type (except Resnick seemed to be more into acid and downers, not amphetamines), the crowd will be extraordinarily prepared to enjoy the subsequent bands. Such was the exact case on Saturday at One Eyed Jacks when No Joy and Lower Dens swooped into town, and enjoy them we most certainly did.
After Resnick concluded his watered-down rendition of 2001: A Space Odyssey, No Joy kicked off the musical escapade with a little guitar thrashing – no wait, A LOT of guitar thrashing. Even though the lighting was as dark as it could get, No Joy brought us to the rock and roll light, as Jasmine White-Glutz and Laura Lloyd saturated the night air with thick feedback and heavy, thunderous waves of distortion, all combined with the precise touch of percussion by Garland Hastings. With their long and undulating curtains of hair on constant drip towards their shiny shoes, the front-women of No Joy rewarded the crowd with wide and potent arrays of hard rock (which any and everybody should quickly go find on their full-length album, Ghost Blonde, or their brand new EP, Negaverse, brought to you, in part, by the heartfelt folk at Mexican Summer). Although the vocals were a tad on the low end, the performance was ultimately a full-throttle propulsion into the righteous world of rock and roll, as the ladies of No Joy signaled ecstatic synapses from their toes to their fingers through their strings and finally through the raging speakers, pulling the crowd into the relentless celebration.
The crowd was in a immaculate disposition after the No Joy set, a bit pruned and crisp from the rock-a-thon, and now fit and ready for the soothing sensations soon to dwell upon us via the soul-gliding nature of Lower Dens. The performance began with the same attitude as would last throughout the rest of the night, with an immediate welcoming into the harrowing yet redemptive carpet ride of sound, as singer/ keyboardist Jana Hunter, bassist Geoffrey Graham, and the other conductors of Lower Dens sailed us into the music. Working with a joyous handful of songs from their latest album, Nootropics, the band relished with us in their performances of “Alphabet Song”, “Brains”, “Propagation” and plenty of other tunes that kept the night on a steady coast into the atmosphere set by sound and dim, spiraling lights. It was peaceful – that might be an quick and easy way to put it, but it’s perfectly true. Color me wasted, but if there are any seashores on Mars, this show at this place must have resembled them. It was a rippling landscape of mind-grabbing tranquility, the kind of music that hooks one in the vertebrae and sucks you right in. That being said, I think I’m to the sinking depths of my couch to put on my headphones and ride the Nootropics ship into bliss.