Gospel Gossip @ Turf Club
November 3rd, 2012
The 4 band bonanza Saturday night at the Turf Club celebrating Gospel Gossip’s newest studio release, Atlantic Blue, began with a poppy whimper, instead of a bang. Early attendees were warmed by the pleasant, crunchy and casually danceable trio Teenage Moods. Not much love here, but not much hate either, they were a mildly good band to open a long set.
Leisure Birds followed, and I was almost too blinded by the reflections from the keyboardist’s leather shorts to be aware of much music coming from the stage. After my eyes drifted to the lead singer’s Tyrolean hunting hat, the trance was broken, and I was able to decode the music. As the four men that comprised the band crept closer together, an eerie, groovy sound began to radiate from the stage. Some of it sounded like it was originating from the bottom of a well, but the rhythm and bass were powerful, driving the melody that hovered over it like a mist above a bog. I’d wished I seen this band before Halloween, when their powers would no doubt be at their peak.
Magic Castles sounded like a watery, modern rock version of Neil Young. The musicians stood much like statues as they played, the music seemed to emerge from their instruments unbidden, as if the band knew that if they stood there, holding their instruments, swaying slightly, the music would come out as a byproduct of their boredom or loneliness.
Finally, at about 1AM, the headliners take the stage. Gospel Gossip rocks, but they rock like a forlorn & lost lover searching for clothes their ex forgot or left behind in their shared apartment. Sarah Nienaber’s twitches and convulsions that accompany her playing could easily be confused for the same involuntary movements one exhibits during a breakup fight.
Nienaber’s guitar sounds like it’s yearning for something that no one can give it. During the set she falls down, as if she is overcome with emotion, or lost in a sea of shimmering distortion. It’s such a part of the usual set that you can’t tell if it’s faked or genuine – and it doesn’t matter either way, it’s become part of Gospel Gossip’s captivating charm.
Ollie Moltaji (drums) and Justin Plank (bass) provide the structure of the music, the frame of the building that Nienaber’s guitar jumps off of. Each have a quick smirk, adding an unreality to the situation – while one is going through a breakup, the other two look on as if amused.
I’ll use a hackneyed metaphor for Gospel Gossip’s music: the rhythm section is the earth, heavy, solid, deeply melodic, the guitar and the feedback it creates are the clouds, sometimes raining, sometimes moving under the light from Nienaber’s voice, which is the sun. Gospel Gossip rocks geologic; sometimes moving with sadness, sometimes triumphantly, but either way, always full of strength and force.
Written by Damian Johansson, Radio K volunteer