Seriously, how is Autolux not one of the top bands out there today? When they dropped their debut, Future Perfect, in 2004, it clearly was one of the top CDs of the then young decade (and I’d argue it still deserves to be on at least the Top 50 to this day). The follow-up, Transit Transit, apparently has been in some kind of label hell for a few years now, and with the exception of the single “Audience No. 2,” not much has been heard of the intrepid trio out here on the East Coast. They’ve apparently been doing a fair amount of shows in and around L.A., but what good does that do me?
Fortunately, last night was a strong step in the right direction of spreading their noisy brand of love once again in D.C.
I tend to think of Autolux as the best band out there today that most people have never heard of. Comprised of a currently mop-topped bassist Eugene Goreshter, guitarist Greg Edwards (formerly of Failure) and the incomparable Carla Azar on drums (resplendent in a sleeveless red dress, sporting a white “A” on her chest and a black armband thingy on her right arm), the band plays a unique form of what I’m now terming shoe thrash (think shoe gaze, but with a shitload more backbone to it). Goreshter tends to take most of the vocal duties, though the two others join in here and there. Edwards tends to focus on sonic screechers that play perfectly off of Goreshter’s droning, thick bass lines. No offense to those two fine gentlemen and their considerable talents, but it’s Azar that really blows me away. Admittedly, I have a thing for chick drummers, but beyond that, the woman is a percussive genius, playing a classical style of drumming that’s a thing of beauty to watch. Equally impressive, she beats the skins like they stole her kid brother’s lunch money. She’s quite possibly the most technically proficient drummer on the scene today. Forget the fact that she could give Janet Weiss or Patrick Carney runs for their money; hell, she’d probably give Buddy Rich a go, too.
Last night’s show focused mainly on Future Perfect tracks, but there were about five or six tracks I didn’t recognize, so I have to assume they hailed from Transit Transit. For roughly the first 45 minutes or so, the band went from one track to the next, barely acknowledging the crowd. One could easily have thought they were playing a sound check as opposed to a concert, for all the attention shown the audience. And then, something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen happened. In one of the smallest crowds I’ve ever encountered at the Black Cat, a solitary drunk guy actually started cracking funny jokes that had both the audience and the band smiling. As said drunk guy pointed out, he had to get drunk early because he had to get up early for work, and this lead to the best (and only) band/crowd exchanges of the night. Following the first outburst, the band launched into “Blanket,” easily the most rocking number of the night. Shortly thereafter, when Buzzy Buzzed implored the band to smile, Azar tersely responded that their hotel had lost her car, which led Buzz to ask if they had lost the entire car or just a door? Was it a big car? This elicited a genuine smile from Azar, and the band just seemed looser for the remainder of the show.
I can’t put my finger exactly on what it is, but Autolux has a way of making my head bob that no other band, from funk to hip-hop to whatever in-between, can manage. Maybe it’s my honky roots. Maybe they’re just that fucking good.
On a far more personal note, I ran into a few buddies at the show, a couple of which I hadn’t seen in years. For longtime readers of Megan and me, you might recognize the third as our former editor from Big Yawn. If you haven’t checked out that blog in a while, Eric has a pretty nifty program in place where he’s trying to see 333 bands during 2009. Last night’s show put him in the mid-200s. You can check out his take on the show (and opening acts, which I missed because I’m getting too damn old to stand for that long), as well as the other 240-whatever other shows, here.