Show Review: Dntel @ Emo’s

Is it possible to live in the present moment whilst revisiting the past? For Jimmy Tamberello’s current tour, under the alias Dntel, that task has become something of an exercise in the contradiction. Only now, nearly a decade after the release of his masterpiece, Life is Full of Possibilities, is Tamberello giving it a proper tour release. By way of the tour, label Sub Pop is blowing the dust off the release with a re-mastered and vinyl reissue of the 2001 LP. The release scheduled for October 25th, marks the first time the album will be on released on vinyl, which is sure to make audiophiles and electro-fans explode with delight.  Tuesday night at Emo’s, the relatively crowded inside stage could finally hear live versions, of the now classic songs, which were long overdue.

More details and plenty of pics after the break…

Opening the evening’s festivities was Will Wiesenfeld (Baths), performing his guitar driven ambient sound waves under the pseudonym, Geotic.   Wiesenfeld’s sparse set-up consisting of a Boss loop machine, iPad, and guitar produced a similarly subtle instrumental vibe which lulled the audience into a blissful state of playful reassurance. Despite the underwhelming nature of his stage charisma, Wiesenfeld won the crowd over early in the set through his sheepish grin.  Overall, he merely whet the collective appetite for something a little more dynamic to come later in the evening.

Hailing from L.A., ATH alumni, The One AM Radio, followed up the lofty flavor with some atmospheric pop in support if their latest release, Heaven Is Attached By A Slender Thread.  Before a Karina/Seberg donned French New-Wave projection, the trio burst into the track “What You Gave Away” from 2004’s A Name Writ In Water. The soothing song highlighted Hrishikesh Hirway’s stellar range and Fontaine Cole’s diverse instrumental skill set right from the outset. As she shifted from electro percussion to vibraphone to accordion in addition to lead and support vocals, certainly I wasn’t the only attendee who wanted to see more from her later during One AM Radio’s support of Dntel’s set. Solid tracks, “An Old Photo of Your New Lover”, “Plans”, and “Sunlight” stood out as crowd favorites before the group finished off their set with a great version of “Everything Falls Apart”.

A little after midnight was the moment Emo’s went back in time. Dntel took the stage, laptop and mixer in tow, with little elaboration. Life is Full… track “Umbrella” began the set with Tamberello providing the modest vocals. Tamberello’s delicately demonstrative attitude was on display throughout the set with only a fleeting smile and acknowledgement of the audience. It’s obvious the he feels more comfortable in the dark confines of his studio, but his vocals and demeanor were delightful. Considering this tour forced him to pull these tracks from deep in storage, both mentally and physically, must have certainly been a weight on the creative process. The reconstructed tracks took on a brand new life, which must have been cathartic instead of mindlessly turning out the exact replicas.  Next on tap was “Rock My Boat” with One AM Radio in superb support sans Ms. Cole. My main question to Tamberello is why he chose Hrishikesh Hirway to perform Mia Doi Todd’s vocal style. Cole’s restrained and fluid vocals seem much more the appropriate correlation. Regardless, “To A Fault” entered briefly as an interlude to a couple instrumental tracks which got the young audience moving into a epidemic of gentle caressing which eventually led to heavy public petting.  The penultimate moment brought the emergence of the famous Postal Service break out party with Hirway again providing the vocals to “The Dream of Evan and Chan”, to massive approval from the young audience. Surely most attendees desired to see that track performed, but I get the sense that Jimmy Tamberello is truly seeking to escape that over powering indie shadow.  In some ways it’s sad to see much of Dntel’s discography get brushed away while focused on Give Up and the ever present question, “When’s the new Postal Service album coming out?” To conclude the evening, the aptly appropriate, “After Parties” rounded out the set much to the delight of One AM Radio and the few remaining dancing patrons on early Wednesday morning.

As a huge fan of Dntel’s career, Tuesday was a long time coming for me and I was thrilled to see it in action at Emo’s. Though I may be in the minority, I truly believe that Tamberello’s best work lies ahead in the expected electronic limelight. Look out for the vinyl release of Life is Full of Possibilities in October, but more so, count on Dntel’s well deserved second-coming as a talented beat maker in his own right.

The trio of bands were also giving away wristbands during the evening with a code to download an EP consisting of remixes of each other’s tracks. Of those tracks, here is the aforementioned Rock My Boat (The One AM Radio Version).

For those of you who couldn’t be in attendance, our own Brian Gray was there to snap some photos including a few doodles by yours truly.

More pics available over at Brian’s site.

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