Friday, April 12, 2013

Valgeir Sigurðsson and Zammuto at Spaceland Ballroom 03.29.13

Sometimes I get hung up on a blog post. This is definitely one of those times. When I found out that Zaummuto was playing The Spaceland Ballroom in Hamden, CT, I immediately asked Adam from Surviving the Golden Age if he would do the review. I knew I wasn't going to be able to come up with the words to describe it. Yet, here I am, two weeks later, forcing myself to do just that.

I've said before one of my favorite ways of discovering new music is from recommendations of other artists I enjoy. Tim Shiel of Telling/Faux Pas/Gotye fame is a big fan of Zammuto; they opened for Gotye at Williamsburg Park last September. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of his set going back and forth between security at the photo pit and the gates to make sure that I would be cleared to shoot the entire show. By the time I had that all straightened out, I barely had a chance to enjoy the music. I sat in the audience pretty far back and took in a couple of songs. I remembered some odd projection images; the one that stuck out in my mind was an infomercial about a piece of gym equipment called 'The Stick' with the band laying down an instrumental track along to the commercial. It was strange enough to make me want to see them again when I could devote my attention to what was going on.

The opener at Spaceland was Valgeir Sigurðsson accompanied by violinist Nadia Sirota. There were no vocals during their set. Sigurðsson's music is evocative of places and feelings which I really enjoy, it's just hard to write about. He hopped between a piano and his laptop, building layers of music in front of the audience. I was reminded of Jon Brion's amazing looping of instruments in a live set.

There was a countdown on the screen as the members of Zammuto took the stage. It was an incredibly effective way of quieting down the audience before they began.

From a photography standpoint, this was tough. The projector is quite bright, while the rest of the stage is poorly lit. There was enough light when the images were bright enough falling onto the band members to get decent shots.

It's similar to Gotye's stage show in the fact that it's sometimes hard to know where to look. There are images that relate to the song, but these aren't videos being commissioned by artists to fit the song exactly. They are things that Nick has put together himself: from old home videos to photographs family members have taken to bizarre infomercials for random massage equipment. (Which my trainer just so happens to have at his gym.)

This was my first show at Spaceland Ballroom. There are a few tables along the walls with a bar against the back. It's definitely an intimate venue. The crowd was pretty laid back which allowed me to move around plenty.

I thought it was interesting to see sheet music projected from an iPad, and a contrast to Sigurðsson who had physical sheet music for his set.

I felt like Zammuto had a great transition from a very electronic album to a live show. Personally, I'm not a fan of autotuned vocals, but this was bearable for me. It was used more to augment his voice than improve it. Nick has a great voice, which was really showcased in the delicate Paul Simon cover 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Some of the video imagery was odd and sometimes it worked. I'm never going to be able to look at the sign language letter T the same way again.

As always, I leave you with shoes!

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