Last Night: Blonde Redhead At Warehouse Live
The trio of lead vocalist Kazu Makino and twin brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace sonically sailed their way into Houston last night to open up their vast palette of musical and visual colors for a packed-out crowd. Many in attendance had anticipated this particular show for months, purchasing tickets far in advance to pay homage to Blonde Redhead's modernly romantic and haunting sounds.
The stage was set with giant photo umbrellas casted in a gold sheen, resembling open flowers. These soon reverberated the blossoms of sound that started at as a low drone and opened up into a flood of guitar strums, electronic blips, polyrhythmic drumbeats and droning bass, as Makino's angelic, otherworldly vocals wove in and out of each song.
Otherworldly is the strength of Blonde Redhead's sound, especially on latest album Penny Sparkle. Monday night, the only hints of the more raucous Sonic Youth type-vigor of the group's mid-'90s releases was the faint jangle of the guitars.
Blonde Redhead's atmospheric sound has hypnotized fans from every musical walk of life, and completely engulfs Sparkle, from which most of the 90-minute set (give or take) was drawn. Makino emerged with a bizarre white mask that resembled an ancient man with long white whiskers.
The mask kept us from seeing her face just as the opening kept us from really putting our finger on what emotions or sounds we were feeling or seeing. The ambiguity wasn't frustrating, though - It was freeing.
The deep bellows of the bass that shook the souls of those present were fully present in one of the opening songs, "Black Guitar." A male/female vocal duet, this dialogue of sadness and bittersweet airs guided us through a soundscape comparable to the eeriness of a black-and-white film noir scene.
Other Penny Sparkle tracks ("Oslo," "Here Sometimes") grounded the groove into something more rhythmically concrete, as the band's signature barrage of beats clicked and danced their way into the audience's shoulders and hips. The electronic percussion and live drums ticked together like clockwork, moving in circular patterns and creating an industrial sound that pushed the music along.