ANR at Little Munich, January 15

Awesome New Republic
With Sumsun, The Band in Heaven and Beings.
Little Munich, Lake Worth
Saturday January 15, 2010

Better Than: A Coral Reefer Band.

It was a Discosoma takeover at Little Munich Saturday night. Four acts performed at the Lake Worth German bar turned late night hipster hotbed, and each had ties to the Miami charitable record label (all profits from Discosoma support non-profit conservation organization Coral Restoration Foundation). The raison d'être of the night was to celebrate the début of Miami synth-pop duo Awesome New Republic's new seven-inch on Discosoma, "Big Problem"/"Dead Gulf."

Awesome New Republic's set finally rolled around at close to 1:30 in the morning and the crowd had dwindled down to a handful of diehard ANR fans and local devotees who appreciated the rarity of witnessing these gifted musicians performing in a Lake Worth haunt. The shimmering electro group had spent this past December oversees in London, wowing audiences with its two-man, hook-laden majesty.

There is always a certain level of a spectacle and awe when watching a singing drummer performance, and that is certainly the case when witnessing these two. On this night, Michael-John Hancock was situated to the right of the stage, positioned to the back of Brian Robertson's multiple keyboards and samplers, and behind his own kit with a short stool -- and practically cornered. Nevertheless, once the show started, Hancock's luxurious pipes took front and center, and he's arguably one of the most successful we've heard among singing drummers.

On the evening's unveiling of the celebrated new song "Big Problem," Hancock laid out ample choruses and soothing oohs and ahs while never losing a step with his snare rolls. And on "Stay Kids" Hancock deftly took care of business on the skins while managing to hit these mesmerizing falsettos on the song's gigantic crescendo. Robertson also demonstrated his brilliance here, ambidextrously hitting chirping notes on one keyboard while striking the primary epic chords of the song on another above. On "The Endless Field of Mercury" the two joined forces, belting out mystifying dual choruses on this tingling grand track.

Before ANR's portion of the night, was the live electronic miasma of Sumsun. We have seen Sumsun perform strictly as a solo act before, with electro whiz Judson Rogers handling the knob twisting. Now, the Get's Edwin Jantunen assists in much of the sequencing, which allots Rogers more flexibility and the opportunity this night to fiddle with his guitar. Rogers spent a great deal of this night taking turns emitting jerky chords on said axe while tweaking his act's leisurely paced ambience on his sampler. With the duo's collection of samplers, sequencers, and synthesizers set on top of a table with white dinner table cloths, the group dealt the audience a veritable buffet of squelches and bleeps set to mid-tempo beats. Couple that with hypnotic projections of morphing geometric figures behind it, and we were left in a trance-like state at the end of this hazy set. The couple of Franziskaner Weisse beers might have added to that effect, however.

Our daze was no less subdued by the droning, white noise-loving set given by West Palm Beach's The Band in Heaven. Ates Isildak and Lauren Dwyer performed this night as a four-piece with the help of a drummer and a full-time tambourine man. The group's penchant for distortion and discordancy has made it one of the most divisive bands in Palm Beach County -- most either loving or hating its lo-fi shoegaze style. Several members of Surfer Blood for instance, sat seemingly engaged throughout the entirety of this set.

Moments of cohesion within the chaotic whirr: "Suicide Pact"-- one track off the group's lauded spilt cassette with Weird Wives -- had both Isildak and Dwyer doing fetching to- and-fro vocals, with the former sounding invitingly saucy and the latter snarling Johnny Rotten-style. "Sleazy Dreams," a forthcoming single due out on Discosoma, had Isildak displaying a baritone delivery while churning out scathing higher frets that challenged the integrity of Little Munich's PA.

Miami trio Beings took Band in Heaven's love of caustic melodies and upped the ante, adding in a maniacal fervor that brought the crowd's energy level up two notches. With drummer Betty Monteavaro's snare drum bashing and vocalist/guitarist Ivan Marchena's cacophonous sludge guitar work, it was impossible to discern any of Being's lyrics. The only time any vocals were audible this set was when Marchena would lean directly into the microphone and let out these primal yowls. The band's song on Discosoma, "Metrozoo," was unveiled relatively early on in the set--yet another one that suffered from imperceptible vocals. However, Marchena's explosive guitar lines and Mike Alén's thumping bass won us over here, making us very reminiscent of Fugazi glory days of yore.

 It was certainly a rewarding performance for those that stuck around until 2:30 am to watch the end of this set. A crowd began to gather at the end of the night at Discosoma's table in hopes of snagging their copy of the limited run "Big Problem"/"Dead Gulf."

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: German Beer and bombastic tunes, is there a better way to spend an evening?

Random Detail: A portion of the remaining copies of "Big Problem"/"Dead Gulf" are being shipped to legendary London record shop Rough Trade.

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