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Into the Fuzz: io echo, A Place to Bury Strangers @ Great American Music Hall, 3/10/10

March 11, 2010

I pulled up close to the Great American Music Hall and parked. I turned the car off and sat there for a second. I’ve already seen BRMC today, dropped off my friend at the airport, and now I’m about to go see two more bands I love. And I’m already thinking that I’ll probably leave before the headliner to sneak back over to Slim’s….I’m really lucky that everything fell into place after feeling so weird about my New York trip.

GAMH is probably my favorite venue in SF, but there are only shows I want to see there every once in a while. After checking in at will call, I show my ID to the doorman, who’s like, ‘hey you!’ I haven’t been there in several months. He goes to stamp my hand, which still has a faded Slim’s stamp from the night before.

I’m able to walk right up to the front even though the show was supposed to start in 10 minutes. The place is pretty empty, which is a shame, because io echo is a great upcoming band. This was my third time seeing them- they opened for NIN at their final show and She Wants Revenge last year.

io echo / APTBS

The band comes out, black clad in boots. American bands in boots (not Cowboy ones, obviously) tend to correlate nicely with my affinity for them. The stage is dark, and it gets loud really quickly. Io’s angelic voice cuts through the fuzz, which is led by the awesome work of Leopold Ross on guitar.

io echo / APTBS

Io can go from statuesque to thrashing around easily. She slowly moves her hands along with the song, and might utilize the mic cable like she’s coiling it in preparation for strangling someone. Whatever she is doing, she has the audience in the palm of her hand.

I tried to video a song, and immediately was tapped on the shoulder by security, who stood there and made me delete it. When did GAMH become a no tape venue? It was always open before.

‘I’m on Fire’ and ‘Doorway’ are great songs….but really I like all of their songs. Their set was only 30 minutes. I hope this tour gives them great exposure.

Video from the night before in LA:

I love watching Oliver Ackermann set up his gear; the chaos cables rat nest, the beat up guitars turned over in submission. When people ask me about good new bands, I always tell them that A Place to Bury Strangers is the last band I truly fell in love with. But now that I think about it, I can’t really say that anymore. I’ve been following them for 3 years now. This would be my fourth time seeing them.

io echo / APTBS

These guys next to me were obviously drunk. As soon as the music started, they began thrashing around. I’m mixed about this, because while I can tell they are actually fans, this means that the young and the reckless have now discovered my band, and one of them might really give me a Gash in the Head.

io echo / APTBS

But this out of focus moment is only temporary, because I am finally standing right in front of Oliver. I can see all of his crazy maneuvers up close. This set was short- only 6 songs- but he fit the energy of one of their usual sets into this. He was more chaotic and violent than the last times I’ve seen him…there were times when I thought that I might get taken out by his guitar swinging around. I liked the danger, though. Getting a Gash in the Head from Oliver’s guitar would have been an awesome story. And after every song- plunk- guitar dropped on the floor.

io echo / APTBS

io echo / APTBS

io echo / APTBS

io echo / APTBS

I was really thrown off by the set starting with ‘Ocean’, when I’m used to that being the closer. But it made it unpredictable. I’m looking over at the bassist….maybe my face was already melted at this point- but is he new? He looked different. The drummer, JSpace, is the same for sure. As usual for them, the vocals are muted in comparison to the squeals and wails and thuds of everything else. It’s almost pitch black, except for a multitude of projectors spewing colored rays of light all over.

The set ended in an explosion, and Oliver turned over the drums.

io echo / APTBS

The people next to me, while annoying, were blown away by the set. When Oliver came back out, everyone wanted to touch his magic hands. The girl a few down from me told him it was the best show she’d ever seen. I beamed as if I had something to do with it. He crouched down to start undoing all of the doo-dads, and I said, ‘Oliver, can I have the setlist please?’ He turned around and grabbed it without looking up, and then almost handed it to another girl until he said, ‘wait- who said that?’. “Me!”, raising my hand. He stood up and handed it to me with a big smile on his face. This made me insanely happy.

APTBS setlist

I actually stood there watching him put up the rest of his stuff and listening to people’s reactions before bailing on the headliners.

Apparently, the bassist did get a Gash in the Head.

Video from the night before:

I walked out of the fuzz and into the dirty streets of the ‘loin, clutching my setlist, my precious.

And then I was off to part 3 of my evening.


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