ATTENTION ALL HIPSTERS: Where the hell were you last night? What's that you say? Well, while you were sipping on your Miller High-Life and getting your groove on to yet another Duran Duran cover band, you missed out on one of the hippest and freshest bands out there today. The band: Canada's Controller.Controller. The place: Rothko.
"Let's rewrite your history."
I knew almost instantly that I was going to be in for a treat when I saw drummer Jeff Scheven put a monkey mask on his head. (Sadly, it only stayed on for one song.) By the second song, "Silent Seven", I was dancing and wanted to sing along where front woman Nirmala Basnayake repeated the phrase "somebody's watching me". Anyone that can take a line from Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" and cleverly place it in one of their own songs is aces in my book. Another highlight was "History" which happens to be my personal favorite song on their History EP. (Watch out as they have a full coming out in 2005.) Although there was a technical problem during the song, the band rebounded and managed to create sonic textures whose sheer power was beyond amazing. The angular guitar work and death-disco beats were reminiscent of Metric, Ladytron, and The Slits.
"You need to pay attention"
Female fronted rhythmic-post-punk-rock is nothing new, but the kids in Controller.Controller have something special that a lot of other bands only wish they had. They possess the ability to not come across as pretentious and because of that can really connect to the audience. With a voice that falls somewhere between Gwen Stefani and less pissed off Karen O, Nirmala captivated the audience with her subtle humility. "Thank you for having us back, last time we were here we were downstairs deejaying. It is nice to be back and playing some of the music we wrote." This attitude left me wanting more, and made me appreciate them ten-fold as a band.
"Will that make it better?"
At times I thought Nirmala was trying to have eye-sex with the audience in an order to seduce them, maybe into dancing and participating? New York, it is OK to dance at a show. It's OK to let down your guard and to enjoy the music. Just make sure that it is music from Controller.Controller.