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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dancing About Architecture in Helsinki

posted by on June 14 at 14:54 PM

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Architecture in Helsinki @ Neumo’s

If you’re not going to get up front and dance—and, really, some nights the moshing, eager-eyed teenagers are just too much to compete with—then the best spot in Neumo’s might be up on the balcony, behind and to the side of the stage. The sound isn’t bad—it’s quieter than on the floor, and it’s roughly the same mix—and you not only get to see all the band’s dance moves and geek out on their gear, you also have a great view of the crowd.

At last night’s Architecture in Helsinki show, the audience was at least half of the show. As much as the Australian popsters put on a spirited performance—throwing paper plates at the crowd like frisbees, hopping around the stage, and just generally exuding energy and fun—they were no match for the crowd’s wild enthusiasm. Kids danced, threw up their hands, pogoed in offbeat waves, piled into each other, screamed along, and flailed at the foot of the stage. At one point, the band’s adorably marsupial cheerleader, Kellie Sutherland, said she wished she could be down in the crowd dancing with everyone. Of course, the kids went nuts, beckoning for her to come down or at least crowd surf for a spell, but Sutherland regretfully declined. “I’ve got things to do,” she said, holding a shaker to her microphone. “I’ve got to shake it.” And she did. (I missed this part—had to leave early—but Ari tells me the band at least got some of the crowd on stage instead).

The band played new songs, lots of great stuff from In Case We Die like “It’s 5!,” “Wishbone,” and “Frenchy, I’m Faking.” The great thing about that last song, I’ve decided, is how offbeat yet still thrilling it’s verses are—the oddly timed rushes and pauses really do demand movement, but the timing is tricky enough that the already-gawky teenage dancing gets comically difficult and arrhythmic. It’s all very charming.

There were a couple technical difficulties—one guitar cut out just before what the guitarist later said would’ve been a wicked guitar solo, and the trombonist’s slide fell off during some particularly energetic horn playing (more like a tromboner!…sorry)—but neither instance really detracted from the show’s momentum. And they sounded great throughout, exuding a sense of effortless fun while still playing the shit out of their bouyant, off-kilter pop songs. The band has a real skill for infusing their songs with bits of other things—hints of ska, world music, and funk creep into their music without feeling like pastiche or genre tourism—and the result is a music that is instantly identifiable as Architecture in Helsinki but not so easily categorized. (Ari tells me they closed with their fantastic, world beaten new single “Heart It Races” and that, surprisingly, most people didn’t seem familiar with it yet.)

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