Atlas Sound at the Bell House was the best show I have seen in a long time, maybe ever. Bradford Cox Is a sorcerer.
He sauntered onto the stage shockingly lanky, carrying a Gibson acoustic and wearing a Bob Dylan harmonica rack on his neck. He took his stool behind his effects pedal board and began to cast his spell. Within seconds I knew I was witnessing something special. I felt stoned on the rich tones, complex intertwining melodies, and rhythms you had to hear to believe—all from just his guitar, harmonica, and devices. They underpinned the familiar, nuanced singing you may know from Deerhunter, the band Bradford fronts. His voice, effeminate yet with the rasp of someone who has been up all night talking, blended in and out of the music as well as any of the other elements. He seemed to shift from poetic and personal, to flippant and Impressionistic without it being distracting, or even being noticed.
The performance was dichotomous in many ways. On one hand there was the clarity of a guy sitting there playing and singing songs, and on the other hand, there was outright confusion at what he was doing and how he was doing it. Each piece he played had just enough song in it to strike a natural balance between old and new, structured and improv, earthy and ethereal, campfire and cathedral. It was just simple enough to have a certain purity, but lush enough to satisfy.
I could see that he was employing delay, harmonizers, arpeggiators, reverb, loops, and more, and he seemed to be doing everything live (no canned tracks), but as with all good magic shows, it’s hard to describe what it was, mechanically, that was being done. Bradford rendered (almost) everyone in the venue as much impressed as in a state of genuine enjoyment.
Not only is Atlas Sound better than your band, he’s better than his own band.
Word by Cedar Apffel