Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Marnie Stern Brings Joy to The Middle East

The queen of perplexing finger-tagging guitar magic, Marnie Stern, once again stopped by The Middle East Upstairs on September 30th to astonish an audience of adoring fans. This time around, she brought up-and-coming shoegazers No Joy along for the ride. This was an intriguing combination as No Joy would provide a steady entrancing groove in contrast Marnie Stern’s controlled chaos. For those unfamiliar, Stern is not only the premier female guitar virtuoso but she can also outplay anyone currently making their rounds through the music circuit.

No Joy played a set shrouded in a cloud of distortion and reverb. The vocals were almost inaudible and served more as an additional instrument that provided an additional atmospheric texture. The effect was that of a hypnotic wave of sound. The audience seemed to be enjoying it, bobbing along with each buzzing song. It was easy music to completely lose yourself in and the more upbeat songs with a psychedelic tinge had a magnetic attraction that you could not help but be drawn in by. Check out “He Cried” from their split with Marnie Stern alongside some tracks from their excellent debut, Ghost Blonde.

Marnie Stern was as engaging, charming, and funny as ever. For anyone who has seen her before, you know that you get a free comedy show alongside an amazing performance. Throughout the set, she wowed the audience with her ability to absolutely tear her guitar apart with her signature fret acrobatics. The more introspective songs from her 2010 self-titled album like “For Ash” and “Transparency is the New Mystery” are hard not to fall in love with; however, it was the old bangers like “Prime” and “The Crippled Jazzer” that has the audience going wild.

Bassist Nithin Kalvakota and drummer Vince Rogers provided a startling backdrop that you had to see to believe. Rodgers had his work cut out for him having to fill the shoes of Zach Hill who plays on the recorded versions of Stern’s songs and is probably the most technically proficient drummer in modern rock. Impressively, Rodgers is able to handle the task like a champ, routinely annihilating complicated time signatures. Together, the three-piece is an unstoppable force and a must-see live act.

Marnie Stern – “For Ash”

Marnie Stern – “Transparency is the New Mystery”

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