@Yugong Yishan, 3 July 2010

By , 2010年 7月 17日

Caribou is one of the few bands (other than, notably, King Khan & The BBQ Show) that Split Works has recently brought to Beijing that I’ve wanted to see. The ambient geometric video projection ensconcing the stage during the beginning of the set didn’t seek to be the visual equivalent of Caribou’s music: rather, it eased the audience into a state of sensory expectancy as Caribou opened with “Leave House”.

During the course of their unfortunately brief set, Caribou performed much of their newest album, Swim. Specifically, “Sun”, “Kaili”, “Leave House”, “Hannibal”, and “Odessa” – I’m personally biased against funk but as “Odessa” sleazily funked its way into my ears I just gave up and slunk into dancing. The songs I liked best were mostly or entirely instrumental: Dan Snaith’s softly pleading, ethereal vocals are irritatingly inoffensive recorded and the live performance isn’t much different.

Caribou’s drummer Brad Weber is the definite nucleus of the performance: when Snaith moves to his own drum set to join Weber’s already furious drumming, you sense the drumming double-whammy coming on, sure to deliver a supernova portion of noise. Caribou are masters of the slow build-up, many songs escalating for lengths of time unheard of for most bands in Beijing before exploding into dense anatomies of sound. That they deliver on the build-up, sometimes after repeated intensifying stages, is blissfully cathartic.

The majority (more than 75%) of the audience was non-Chinese. Both surprising and not considering the state of music in Beijing at the moment: we’re in the thick of summer language-study students, many of whom will have heard of Caribou. Though Caribou is prominent abroad, the zeitgeist among Beijing bands still trends towards direct aural compositions heavy on guitars rather than washes of lush electronic-inflected sound, perhaps explaining the relative dearth of Chinese show-goers.

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