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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Fiery Furnaces @ The Crocodile Cafe

posted by on October 17 at 12:46 PM

Eleanor Friedberger

Which Fiery Furnaces would show up in Seattle? It’s a question worth asking before every gig by the siblings Friedberger; as if the band’s albums weren’t dizzying and varied enough, older brother and main songwriter Matthew seems to rearrange the night’s songs in whatever motif suits him at the time. I’ve seen him go for organ-crazy carnie mode, Shuggie Otis-throwback soul and even plain ol’ hard rock, and their love for live rearrangements is a big reason why I think they’re among the best touring bands in the nation.

Last night, Matthew’s bandmates were just as curious—if not clueless—as the crowd in terms of expectations. The night’s theme turned out to be black new-wave—I could hear big similarities to bands like Memphis’ Lost Souls in the Cars-meets-Sabbath approach, like when old hit “Birdie Brain” became a grinding, synthy take on “Iron Man.” Countless times, the rhythm section locked eyes with Matthew, as if they’d never rehearsed these dizzying, complex shifts (a frightening thought, given how perfectly the bass and drums held up their end of the deal)…or as if Matthew was being a Chuck Berry-level asshole and changing songs on the fly as he saw fit. A brief griping match between Matthew and his lead-singing sister Eleanor seemed to imply the latter, but the gig was only made better by the tension. Enjoy a 7-minute sample below.

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Patti Smith bangs with Jefferson Airplane pangs. Matthew never changed his expression EXACTLY like the Captain of Captain and Tennille! All he was missing was a captain's chapeau.
Eleanor's lyrics are prose-worthy, she talks them in a "Go Ask Alice" delivery. One song was about this
man she worked with at an insurance company in Queens once upon a time. Although they wore out their surprises a few songs were amazing, with crazy
rhythms and very 60's sounds. Eleanor has these rock guy singer head jerks that show off her shag. I even heard...Lotte Lenya/Weill? Others bob (the behavior monitor stopped some cats from getting too rowdy; good thing it wasn't a Sex Pistol's concert)but for me it is such an intellectual
springboard time. I went to this show because Katherine Hepburn's Voice (KHV) likens themselves to Firey Furnaces on their site which made me curious. Hey, what about Eleanor's high waisted tight fittin' jeans AND that cool & corny sun burst fake turquoise broach? These youngsters amaze me. (My right ear still smarts from the second band, the one with Jesus on drums. I always imagined Jesus as an alto sax player, myself.)

Posted by Molly Dolly | October 18, 2007 3:06 AM

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