On Friday, May 13, I went with my friend Gina Eggleston (who contributed to writing this review) to see the Raveonettes at Neumos, with Tamaryn opening. Last year at Bumbershoot 2010, I saw the latter half of the Raveonettes’ set and really enjoyed it, so I’d been looking forward to seeing a full set by them. I’ve also been enjoying Tamaryn when I’ve heard them on KEXP, so this promised to be quite a good bill.
Tamaryn played a lovely set of atmospheric, dark, and moody music. Mostly the set ranged from slower shoegaze ballads to upbeat dreampop—nothing innovative here, but they played it well, and the well-behaved crowd was very appreciative. To end the last song, the rest of the band dropped out and started to leave the stage as the guitarist set up a loop, set down his instrument, and left too, letting it play out to an empty stage. I thought that was a nice touch. It was a good set of good music, and I think it’s worth keeping an ear out for Tamaryn.
The Raveonettes are the duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo. The stage was set with dual drum kits, boding multiple percussionists (“always super-hot” according to Gina, and I agreed). Sure enough, they turned out to have a trio of backing musicians, mostly one on guitar and two on drums, though occasionally just a duo on drums or one drummer and one guitarist. And although Wagner mostly both played guitar and sang, for the opening number he only sang lead vocals while two of the backing musicians played guitar and the third drummed. Foo played bass throughout and shared vocals on most songs. Gina liked that Foo felt like a member of the band that happened to be a girl, which she contrasted with the “wispy feminine presence” fronting Tamaryn -- but then Tamaryn the band is named for its lead singer and founder, and her prominence is typical for dreampop.
From their name to the harmonized male-female vocals to some surf-guitar work, the Raveonettes often strongly evoke the pop music of the Sixties -- though it’s fun to imagine the people of that time confronted with the heaviness and distortion the Raveonettes bring to it. However, the music from their latest release, Raven in the Grave, had a darker style, not so Sixties-esque. Although the Jesus & Mary Chain or My Bloody Valentine are often mentioned as the other big influences, we were hearing hints of the Cure and the Breeders as well. The music was dramatic and powerful, but also playful and lighter at times. Gina remarked on the carefully controlled chaotic breakdowns in some of the songs, a hallmark of the shoegaze style, and the thrill of it being the reason she started going to shows in the first place.
Older singles such as “Dead Sound”, “Love in a Trash Can”, and “Heart of Stone” were scattered among the new songs, providing a nice contrast. And we enjoyed the new songs too, though being unfamiliar with them, for the most part I couldn’t pick any of them out for special comment. They did close the main set with the new song “My Time’s Up”, something of a shoegazer’s lullaby, which was lovely. I was thrilled that the final encore song, as I’d hoped, was “Aly Walk with Me”, played extra-heavy shoegaze style (though oddly with only one drummer). Its dark and delicious grooves brought the evening to a perfect ending.