A dreary, rainy evening opened with the blinding light of heaven in the form of a Dallas-turned-New York band known as the Secret Machines. Three shaggy-haired men reeking of early-’90s brashness took the stage in front of three spotlights that were pointed straight into their audience, causing many to avert their eyes. But this only placed more emphasis on the magnitude of group itself.
The psychedelic, spaced-out atmosphere merged with the deafening intensity of a well-placed car crash. Secret Machines were masters of the Black Cat mainstage. Playing songs off its major label debut, Now Here is Nowhere, the band toyed with every aspect of the senses. With only one keyboardist, a guitar player and a concentrated drummer, Secret Machines is a rock group able to perform both the biting, nine-minute Flaming Lips-esque jam and the more radio-friendly “Leaves are Gone” and “Nowhere Again.” The theme of the show was loudness and beauty sharing a worn, wooden stage.
Following the Machines was an evolved, less power-driven Blonde Redhead that was able to prove how much the band has matured in almost a decade of existence. The release of its most recent album, Misery is a Butterfly, established the paradox of the band’s anxious feelings in a defined manner. Like the Machines, it too created an atmosphere, but one unlike its previous Euro-art-rock-meets-Sonic-Youth days. It was a Blonde Redhead more focused and toned down.
While Redhead did not abandon its traditional noise-laden breakdowns from Damaged Lemon, it did prove itself capable of creating a more melodious sound on Butterfly. Fortifying the shadowy undertone of its new set, the band performed songs like the lush opening track “Elephant Woman,” and guitarist Amedeo Pace’s squeaky lead vocalist song, in which he lightly whimpers, “Re-imagine me, and I’ll reinvent myself still.”
Critical appraise and fan approval aside, the Secret Machines’ loud, loose style seemed to show fans the immediate evolutionary effects of quasi-avant rock music. Given that the band remains true to its inventive nature and strong live shows, Blonde Redhead can be seen as what will happen to a band like Secret Machines. Although the two differ in sound, the show revealed a definite connection and the relevance of ever-evolving pop music.