by Nick Rallo
The Lounge on Elm Street is shaped a little bit like the number eight. A big round room for the bar that leads to a narrow hallway with arty photographs that leads to a oval shaped stage area. The ceiling is high so the sound can be rich and full. The crowd was full enough that people were spilling out into the narrow hallway, and most were dancing at the citrusy, steamy rock The Fiery Furnaces was putting out. A man next to me was wearing one of those box-shaped winter hats with the ear flaps, the kind a person wears on a Russian Steppe. One guy next to me was so into the music he was sweating through his shirt, which was one bad pill away from being tossed on the stage in celebration.
Sounds like everyone was having a good time, right? I was. I had some beer and was into the swagger of singer Eleanor Friedberger; the sick guitar from Matthew Friedberger; the crispness of the backing band was all good. Live, their songs are less experimental than the records–more steady, driving rock. With Eleanor’s fluffed hair and high jeans, I imagined her more like Grace Slick on stage than a “quirky” indie star.
So, I was a little bit pissed when, 3 songs before the encore, Eleanor Friedberger said unhappily, “Hi Dallas, when we come back, tell your promoter to find a better place than this.” There was an awkward silence, and everyone looked at each other, confused. What do you say when someone leans over and says, “this place sure does suck, huh?” It makes the person feel like an idiot for being there, which is a jerk thing to do at a paid concert. Most of your fans, if they’re real fans, would watch you play at a dog pound. That’s the point and fun of a dive bar concert. We’re all there for a reason, and you’re doing good enough to fill the place–so why make us feel like “we didn’t quite live up to the music” in the process?
The Fiery Furnaces new album, Take Me Round Again, is out now and they’re about to head to Europe. Catch them live if you can, but make sure the venue’s adequate for your needs first.