Gang Gang Dance @ The Urban Lounge

Posted November 18, 2008 in
Gang Gang Dance
11.08.08 Kilby Court

BR>Gang Gang Dance
Gang Gang Dance (courtesy of

Certain bands can take you places, metaphysical places. Gang Gang Dance is one of those bands. I noticed myself zoning in and out as three percussionists, at points, tweaked their sound to the limit of my sonic understanding and to “the beyond.” I really enjoy drums and Gang Gang Dance know how to use them.

I can’t possibly tell you how interesting and unique this group was to experience live but I will try. I can perhaps best illustrate this point by telling you how I usually react to music after a show from an artist or group. After seeing the musicians live I have to listen to an entirely different genre to cleanse my palate as an audio slice of pickled ginger. Usually I’m very tired of the band at that point and want to keep the live experience fresh in my head. Gang Gang Dance left me lusting for more and I’ve been listening to them for the last few hours since I saw them live. This is highly unusual for me and one of the greatest compliments that I might pay the Brooklyn based group (I’m sure they’re shitting themselves with glee right now at that). I’m even listening right now. Click here then on the Gang Gang Dance album and “See All Free Downloads” to hear what I mean.

I had no idea how the sound of their latest album, St. Dymphna, could be recreated live, it is that layered, but the group did it. They fucking did it. And only four people were required to mix an insane blend of electronic noise with the most basic of percussion––a metal pan of some sort made a brief appearance––being utilized at points. The music live reminded me of the Blade Runner score: haunting, ethereal and very futuristic. If you closed your eyes you could see Harrison Ford getting rained on and Sean Young’s brown eyes emoting all over the place. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much Philip K. Dick lately, and that has something to do with it, and, in combination with a boyhood crush I had on Ms. Young, it may be compounding that effect. The fact that the music did such a great job of resonating on so many levels of pop-culture in my head, ranging from rhythmically resounding drum performances I’ve enjoyed from traditional Japanese drummers to bits of puff like sci-fi classics means that Gang Gang did what music live is supposed to do.

The performance was on point and very taxing to the group. It definitely required effort. I believe every member of the band was sweating by the end of the set. That is a good rule of thumb for an electricity-filled show, and a sign of laziness in older rockers. Sweat motherfuckers! If you aren’t rocking hard enough to bust a few beads then you shouldn’t be charging 70-plus dollars to fill the Delta Center, or some other acoustically cursed shite venue. Kilby Court is the perfect venue for Gang Gang Dance and I hope they never lose that perspiring edge that they have right now. That would be a crime against experimental music and a shitty experience if too much distance is placed between this collective and the crowd. Lead vocalist and part-time percussionist Liz Bougatsos felt that way too and commented in her heavy Brooklyn accent something along the lines of “Salt Lake has some amazin dancas. Some of the best dancas I’ve ever seen.” And she would know because she was only two feet from those kids shaking their brains out. It made me glad to see, once again, the little venue I first enjoyed almost a decade ago still around and still bringing quality acts to bear in front of all ages crowds––up close and very personal. Kudos to Sartain and Lance once again.

One of the standout songs performed from the latest album was “Vacuum,” a piece with a trip-hop intro and haunting keyboard bends, an electronic trick I wanted to see live, and was not disappointed by. Some of the sounds this group emits make somebody like me, who thinks he is quite aware of how most sounds are made, scratch my head in confusion. The guitarist fully utilized his stack of three plus processors/amps (digital-screened and of a variety I have never seen before) to fully integrate into the sound. You’d be hard pressed to hear the guitar on this track if you didn’t actually see the man create it live. I still don’t know what the hell kind of effects that guy uses, and maybe want to leave that mystery partly unsolved, but they turn out great live.

I don’t want to give too many compliments because this small edition of critical praise adds up with all the other press and means they will eventually grow beyond the bounds of Kilby. And I do understand that is sometimes part of the creative process and growth cycle. So listen, if you must, but promise not to bring any douchebags to their next show, OK?