Monday, May 26, 2008

if you solve it, you will remember all of it.

i saw islands on saturday at webster hall in what brooklyn vegan says was their biggest new york show to date. the first single from their newest album came into my possession in march; it's called the arm and it's awesome, with all these divisions and distinct sections, pretty badass. i bought the tickets for saturday night because of that song, because i could tell from listening to it that live it was going to sound ridiculous. and it did, which was nice.

there are no good pictures on the internet from this show that i could find because it was a saturday night show on memorial day weekend. so i am going to paint a picture for you with words.

nick diamonds goes by nick thorburn now but i will always think of him with the last name diamonds, and he is very thin and came out on stage with white paint on his face wearing a wifebeater splattered with fake blood. the internet in its infinite wisdom speculates that their latest album, arms way, is a concept album about a narrator involved in a car crash who winds up in a coma, and nick as the singer is in this circumstance the personification of his album's narrator - by pretending to be grievously wounded and deathly pale he acts out the tragedy his album is based on. or maybe he's just trying to be kevin barnes and is too skinny to wear a corset.

that said let's talk about creeper which is my favorite track on the album and the song from whence the title of this post comes. this is a song about dying. this is not a song about the inevitability of death, nor the possibility of death, nor how much dying would suck, this is a song about the physical act of not existing anymore. "right from the start i was stabbed in the heart." there is no time to think or reconcile. dying and not knowing you're dying. the febrile energy of this song is captivating. you, in listening to this song, have witnessed a death - albeit fictional, still powerful. here it is recorded in philadelphia on the 23rd.

also incredible live is one of my favorites, where there's a will there's a whalebone. here's a recording, from sxsw. i can only sum up the greatness of this with youtube videos.

they closed with vertigo, then swans, then to a bond (two encores!) although nick told us that we should be booing his old songs - "out with the old and in with the new" - everyone still kept yelling for rough gem, which they finally played second-to-last. rough gem is a song that will never get old, or boring, or uninteresting: "you can scoop out my brain, shape it into an ear and then tell me your pain." when return to the sea came out i was fifteen and wanted to tell that to many people. everyone on that shaking and buckling floor yelled in perfect and exact unison: "can you cut!? i can cut, because i'm a rough gem."


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