So remember how in our last post, we said we headed back to the Gorilla vs. Bear fest, which "should have been" going strong? It turned out that Tim DeLaughter's new project, the pedophilic-sounding Preteen Zenith, had been setting up behind a curtain for about 25 or 30 minutes by the time we got there. We scrambled to the balcony and, drinks in hand, waited an additional ten or maybe 15 more minutes before anything actually happened.
By this time the @GranadaTheater tweets, which were being displayed on the screens in real-time, were getting snarkier and more impatient: "There better be a fucking life size space ship on stage when that curtain goes up." "By the time the curtain goes up they'll be Adult Zenith." "Is Tim forming yet another band back there?" etc.
But! Then! Suddenly!
A silent movie was projected on the screen! Tim and some other dude, dressed as extras from "Deadwood" and wearing Old Timey Mustaches, ran around in some greenery. It was largely incomprehensible, and by "incomprehensible" we mean "not interesting enough to invite the trouble it would take to figure it out." This artsy short film was too much for our impatient friend T, who left.
Too bad for him, because right after the film ended, it was laser and music time!
|White lights! Colored lasers! Red pants!|
In a burst of confetti for the photoreceptors, Preteen Zenith stood bathed in white light and smoke and splattered with red and green lasers that careened all across the Granada's walls, ceiling, and audience. Red and green: festive colors for Christmas, which it was by the time they came out. Ha! We kid, of course.
|Where can I get one of those laser disco balls?|
There was Tim, prancing about in a little green tunic and red pants, like a color-blind Peter Pan, with five other musicians, anonymous (in the sense of being totally obscured by lighting, not in the sense that their names are unknown) behind him. The music was layered, but not the layered high and melodic chorals of Polyphonic Spree. This was bass-heavy, with droning synths, loud piano, and modulated guitars. The drums of Jason Garner were a standout, forceful and building a solid foundation for the sometimes precarious tower of noise.
It occurred to us that Tim would do very well writing a stage musical. Maybe a big concept musical a la "Tommy." Perhaps if there were a book to this concert, it would seem less chaotic.
Indeed, R thought of Preteen Zenith as a natural evolution from where the Spree left off, a sort of combination Tripping Daisy and musical theater. He thought it had more potential than N did, who found it all a bit reliant on the light and sound, missing the fury. It might have been interesting to see them cut the lights and do something a capella or maybe with just the piano. Just for a change-up, to showcase the melodies that were hiding in that grandiloquence.
Taking all into account, it was a spectacle... but not spectacular. Grand musical theater like the Who, but the week-old Preteen Zenith did not show anything close to the songwriting chops that would justify such a visual excess.
After a late start, they began to run long. Still they played on even as fans began to shout for the next act, White Denim. Eventually the curtain was dropped in front of them before they could launch into yet another sparkly explosion of instrumentation. The Granada had spoken: it was White Denim's turn now.
In sum: Fun, but not an amazing debut. And marred by the fact that Tim DeLaughter over-reached. The extended wait time, the meaningless film and the refusal to cede the stage was frankly rude to the fans, the venue, and White Denim. Poor form.