Live: Emeralds Take Us Away at Glasslands
Emeralds' Mark McGuire, pushing buttons. All photos by Georgia Kral.
Tuesday, October 22
Better than: Unaccompanied daydreaming
A certain kind of music begs for a collective experience, one in which everyone in the room vibes together in harmony. Other music is more private, best experienced at home or walking around alone, wearing headphones. And then there are acts like Emeralds, the three-piece experimental band from Ohio. Live, they ride the line between public and private so closely you forget where you are. This was the case last night when each member of the band played a solo set at Glasslands.
Their respective sets combined for what was basically one long jam--true, breathing soundscapes, expertly crafted from the first synthesizer sound to the last. Emeralds electronics player Steve Hauschildt performed first. His instruments: a keyboard covered in knobs and a monolith sized effects box. Starting out mellow and ambient, the sound eventually turned harsh. After about 15 minutes, Hauschildt was finished. Next up, the band's John Elliot, tonight going by the name Outer Space. Performing with his back to the audience for most of his set, Eliot bore through the room with vintage, analog synthesizers. His music, a bit more poppy than Hauschildt's, favored mathematic rhythms and vintage Nintendo style notes.
Finally came Emeralds frontman (as much as three-piece noise acts ever have frontmen) Mark McGuire, a blonde guy who looks exactly like what you'd imagine an Ohio-born, corn-fed American to look like. But don't let his t-shirt and baggy jeans and sneakers throw you. McGuire's set was a 20-minute epic saga, a symphony in three movements. His best soundscapes build and build to the point of nearly breaking, and then suddenly and swiftly incorporate another element. McGuire is a loop master, layering movements on top of each other:
Movement I: Birds chirping underwater
Movement II: Pretty melody
Movement III: Monster guitar solo
Brooklynite Laurel Halo followed the Emeralds solo sets to close the show. Halo's music is more dance-pop, with dark, low-end sonic sludge on top. Each song is a club hit under an awkward layer of self-consciousness. At the beginning of each song, Halo would drop a beat that made many in the room fist pump or throw their hands up--music as collective experience, all over again.
Overheard: "Look at her, [points to Laurel Halo], what a badass."
Notebook Dump: One critic in the front was so into McGuire's set he yelled at two chatty photographers to "take it someplace else." Don't harsh his vibes, man.