God save the Clientele

The Clientele + Field Music + The Mad Scene – Bowery Ballroom – March 23

After hearing the track “No Place Called Home” by the opening band, The Mad Scene, I decided to head over to the Bowery Ballroom early to check them out. After all, I’m a sucker for male/female vocals as I’ve mentioned countless times. Let’s just say I was in for a bit of a disappointment. Not only were most of the songs sung by a guy, they were also surprisingly generic. Tracking down info on The Mad Scene has proved difficult. It seems that a number of bands go by the same name, including an early 90s group from New Zealand, which I don’t think is who played last night.

The Mad Scene that I saw was made up of 7-8 people on stage, depending on whether they were joined by Gary of the Ladybug Transistor on trumpet. With the exception of Gary and perhaps one other member – Josh, the band looked considerably older than the majority of the groups I see, which kind of made me expect them to be better than they were. The highlight of their set was definitely when the female bass player took over the microphone to play a song about Shamu. Her voice led more levity to the music, and the whimsical lyrics gonna catch a whale and ride a tiger were pretty delightful (at least if you could manage to not think about the recent tragedy surrounding orcas).

Up next were the British group Field Music. They may have only had four members (yes, they added a member recently), but their music seemed much more complex than that of The Mad Scene. Oh boy! They knew what time changes were! Their songs contained major tonal shifts and intriguing intros! And yes, more than one person sang at a time.

Field Music (before they were four people)

Field Music played a mix of old and new songs, but they started with the old before getting into a few from their recently released album, Field Music (Measure).  Brothers Peter and David took a bit of a hiatus following their 2007 release, and I’m glad to see them back in the game.

In typical form, they played a number of songs from their older albums and almost apologized for playing new songs. They opened with “Since K Got Over Me,” the opening track from their 2005 album Strange Geometry.

The Clientele (need to take more press photos!)

Coming off the last night of a 15 million night tour (according to Alasdair), the group was a bit disoriented. After playing a song or two, Alasdair casually said, I actually have no idea what day it is, but thank you for coming out.

Before launching into “I Wonder Who We Are,” the following exchange took place:

Alasdair: This is from our new album…
Random guy: which is awesome!
Alasdair: It’s ok I know none of you have it.

The Clientele then preceded to nail the song. Admittedly, the lyrics are not very substantive (especially during the chorus), but the song is undeniably catchy and upbeat and even got the crowd dancing.

Despite the fact that The Clientele were as self-deprecating as ever, they put on a great show and finished the night off strong with a three-song encore that concluded with “Reflections After Jane.”


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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