Sunday, May 22, 2011

Seeing Architecture in Helsinki without leaving Berlin

Hi all,

*I began writing this post nearly a MONTH ago. My word. So while the main content is still valid, 'this week' is now a couple of weeks ago. Bad blogger!*

It has been a busy week in the Von Strudel WG (Wohnungsgemeinschaft, aka Share House). On Wednesday last week, I took a trek out to Potsdam to see the Palaces of the Prussian Kings. Spring is arguably the best time to venture to Potsdam, as the extensive gardens are bursting with blooms of all shapes, sizes and colours. That may be a blog post unto itself.

Postdam, she's so pretty

After a long day wandering around P-dam, it was time to grab the Scooby Gang and head to another round of live music.

Architecture in Helsinki took a moment to breathe between albums in producing their most recent LP Moment Bends. Four years have lapsed since we were pow-ed with 'Heart it Races' and 'Hold Music'. In those four years, the band reconfigured, and made a move towards a more synthy sound, losing a lot of the orchestral fixings of previous albums. There are no clarinets or tubas this time around, as in 'Tiny Paintings' or earlier work like 'The Owls Go'.

'That Beep,' the first single from Moment Bends (which was actually released three years ahead of the album) gives you an idea where the band was heading with the album. A little late 80s, the beeps and other chewing-gum synth noises set the tone for a lot of the tracks. Their second single, 'Contact High' is catchy, and the throwbacks to the 80s continue.

Front man for the band, Cameron Bird, dominates the vocals on the album, with Kellie Sutherland ( the sole chick in the group) given only a couple of tracks to lend her sweet sound to. In calling Bird the 'front man' of Architecture in Helsinki, I feel I'm discrediting the other members of the band, who all play vital roles in the balance of the group's sound. Not only that, they play musical chairs with their musical instruments (i.e. they all play multiple instruments), not only on the album, but on stage too.

We saw AiH at the soon-to-be defunct venue, Maria am Ostbahnhof (ed note – as of 22 May, Maria is now closed). Sadly the venue was nowhere near capacity, and we arrived just as the warm-up act were finishing.

Maria am Ostbahnhof - RIP

AiH began their set with 'Desert Island' a song from their new album. Considering the album was only released on 6 April and the gig was exactly two weeks after that date, the crowd were enthusiastic in hearing a song they weren't familiar with.

The performance was evenly distributed with new and old material, which had the crowd bopping. Huddled up front were a noisy group of Melbournians (the band's home town) who received a special shout-out from the band, which was in-turn met with an even noisier cacophony of 'yeahs' 'Go Melbourne' and maybe even one 'Sydney sucks'.

I mentioned earlier the band's ability to play musical chairs with their musical instruments, and their live performances are no different. The stage was littered with keyboards and synthesisers, no less than four guitars were played by three band mates.

For me, the highlights of the show were 'Wishbone' and 'Heart it Races'. Getting caught up in the riotous Melbourne gang at the front of the crowd, I was too busy screaming lyrics along with another girl to notice what the rest of the crowd were doing.

Overall, I was really happy with the live performance by the band, who manage to replicate a very unique and distinctive sound outside of the studio. I was especially impressed with the charisma of vocals man Bird, who to me echoed the writhing, mic stand caresses of a young Michael Hutchence – perhaps it's the hairstyle? What do you think?

xoxo Fifi

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