Galaxy Hut was an appropriately named venue for the two space-age bands from Northampton, Massachusetts that played there last Monday. Jeremy Dubs Presents and Home Body each brought their own brand of ethereal electronic music to the Arlington bar, and illustrated why the two up-and-coming bands are turning heads and ears on their current east coast swing.
Jeremy Dubs was up first. Dubs has had a unique musical career which has seen him release albums of sci-fi music with his band the Bunnies, open for Frank Black and the Pixies as a member of the Bennies (sensing a theme?), and most recently releasing a tribute record of sorts to Harry Nilsson on Black Francis’ The Bureau Records. A follow up, Words, will be released early next year.
His band, Jeremy Dubs Presents, is something to behold even before the first 8-bit synth sounds are heard. Dubs, who has a bone disease called osteogenesis imperfecta that confines him to a wheelchair, sits behind his Realistic Concertmate synth with a strobe light ticking away beneath it, giving him an otherworldly glow that matches his music perfectly. Robert Ives, clad in a shiny gray spacesuit, also plays the keyboards and occasionally the drums. Rebecca Macomber alternates guitar and trumpet, and Vanessa Zaehring adds a high-end harmony to Dubs’ unique voice, which is vaguely reminiscent of Menomena’s Justin Harris. The end result is slightly different than you find on Dubs’ recorded works (the multiple overdubs on his voice would be difficult to reproduce live), a more organic, spacey vibe that’s absolutely riveting.
Mixing old material and new, the band ran through 10 wonderful experiments in sonic minimalism that alternated from slow and methodical (“The Worlds”) to outright bubbly and bouncy (“Speak.”) One Galaxy Hut patron summed it up best following “I’m In the Clouds” when she whispered “That was fucking awesome.”
Home Body was up next, and like the band before them they were hard to miss. Vocalist Haley Morgan wore a full spandex body suit with silver tinsel fringes at the shoulder that flailed about wildly as she danced around the hall. Various lights were set up on the stage that she turned on and off with foot pedals while she danced, giving an almost disco feel to the proceedings. Her band mate Eric Hnatow occasionally joined her in choreographed dance moves when he wasn’t noodling with a keyboard, sampler, or sequencers, all of which were used ingeniously but sparingly enough to allow Morgan’s vocals to shine and help create their unique sound. Their performance is equal parts music and performance art, and they do both brilliantly.
Their music calls to mind bands as disparate as Washed Out, the Knife, Cocteau Twins, and Sleigh Bells. Morgan is an amazing vocalist, wowing the crowd with her pipes and prompting the crowd to demand an encore (when was the last time you saw a band playing at a bar get pressured for an encore?).
With each band releasing new music in the near future, they’ll hopefully be back through the area soon, space suits and all.