This Little Underground
Published: September 19, 2012
Indie heroes Built to Spill also rolled through (Sept. 10, the Social). You know, it's a good thing they have both decent music and considerable legacy on their side because they're kind of wooden onstage, making it more than a little laughable that they inquired between songs about having the light show be more dynamic. While main man Doug Martsch handled the matter with humor by offering any audience member 20 bucks to run lights, I've no idea why guitarist Brett Netson saw fit to cop such an onstage attitude about it. Ghostland Observatory's laser light show and Kiss' pyro wouldn't have added any electricity to his own statue-worthy stage presence. But still, I gotta admit, they sounded good. And they're still one of the more elegant of the intricate '90s indie rock bands.
Besides being more demonstrative, Northwest opener Helvetia showcased an intriguing vision of indie rock that melodically explores without getting lost. Atmospheric and mercurial, their nicely woozy music has full emotional range. Whether they stay in the moody pocket or blaze out of it in a fiery freakout, it all feels pulsing and alive. Most importantly, there's a distinctly enveloping heft to them. Warm echoes of the musical past course through their sound, but this is clearly something else decidedly modern.
The doctor is out
Heads up, boo boos. I'll be on column break next week. It'll be OW's big, annual Fall Guide so that'll cushion the hurt a little. But the week after, we'll be slipping into the always sexier autumn concert season and just plain kicking ass.
> Email Bao Le-Huu