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Column

This Little Underground

Our live music columnist covers Jeff Mangum, Shabazz Palaces, and he issues a dare to some locals

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Earlier and around the corner, New York band Freelance Whales (the Social) wove their twee indie-pop sensibility in an elaborate fabric. Luxuriously furnished live, they do their thing with skill, breadth and panache. But the depth was in the openers.

The futuristic pop of Brooklyn's Il Abanico featured supple vibes alongside an impressively restless rhythmic skeleton. But so far out on that same leftfield branch as to occupy an entirely different stratum altogether was Florida's own Hundred Waters, who completely owned the night and continue to dazzle. Despite its softness, there is a steely lack of artistic compromise in the way they approach music. It's clear that extraordinary thought and work go into the craftsmanship of their songs – and that their organic, sophisticated and almost elvish alien-pop is a new language – but seldom does it feel willful or forced. How music this unique and studious and unconventional has caught national indie fire is still a bit of a puzzle to me. But when it's something this good, even I know when to stop asking questions. So I just smirk with pride.

Also, due to a temporary technical issue, frontwoman Nicole Miglis filled in solo to demonstrate her classical piano training au naturel and in full bloom. And, yup, she's the real Mac all right.

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