Crystal Antlers, Paradiso, Amsterdam 05/03/09
It’s a busy night at the Paradiso with four acts on, two up, two down, so to speak. Regardless of the charms (or otherwise) of Incognito & Laidback Luke in the main hall, Incendiary are here to see the mighty Crystal Antlers, whose EP we much admired. The gig is due to start at the unfeasibly early time of 8pm, with the charming kitchen sink electronics of Psapp to follow later. Regardless of reasons for the schedule, it does feel weird seeing a full on two car garage band playing so early. Still the Antlers have made some impression in Holland, as the upstairs room is reasonably full of the usual Boho suspects (each with their own take on the wardrobe & demeanour of Shaggy from Scooby Doo)…
After a wait as long as decency permitted the five-piece shuffled on and tried to make some sense of the tiny stage (further cluttered with Psapp’s stuff). The Antlers are a strange bunch, the bass player & singer looks for all the world like an overgrown teenage prop forward. He also has the word EGO gaffa-taped to his chest, (which, due to the humidity, falls off in this sequence during the night; first the O, then the G, then the E)… The guitarist looks like Dave Mason circa 1966 and they have a biker type on farfisa. There’s also a crazy percussionist who shows us his gut from time to time, but he’s a charming fella and we forgive him his multiple changes of oversize glasses.
The Antlers’ sound is steeped in the mid sixties garage scene. If you own Pebbles or Rubble or Nuggets LPs and play them regularly then you will dig the psyched-out surges of the Antlers. They’re not a tribute band mind, as they have a particular way of creating a big whirl of sound that’s always bordering on the psychotic. Perhaps it’s because the lead singer opens his gob and screams his bloody head off. Or perhaps it’s the extra percussion that brings a threatening rumble to their sound. Whatever, their stuff works best when it’s allowed time to develop and mutate into something more psyched out & spacey. A couple of freak outs delivered at an ever increasing pace certainly did the trick with the audience, who patently failed to cut any sort of rug elegantly - Note to scenester types. Learn how to dance as well as shuffle - but seemed blissfully happy nonetheless.
The gig was pretty short; the band played all their songs (as new bands do) and managed to slip in a very straight cover of Mr Dylan’s Baby Blue for good measure. But it was a good show, and they have a heck of a lot of promise. Interesting to see what they do with their music. Keep an eye out.
Words: Richard Foster