Yellow Ostrich @ The Turf ClubMar 31, 2014
On Friday, March 28th, 2014, Yellow Ostrich and Pattern Is Movement took the Turf Club by storm for a night of sick beats and sicker grooves.
PATTERN IS MOVEMENT
Any good concert reviewer would likely research or at least listen to the bands he or she is about to review. I guess I’m not on that level yet. I made my way to the Turf Club last Friday, March 28th, with a long-standing knowledge and appreciation of headliners Yellow Ostrich, but could not have even told you the name of the opener. Well, the name of that opener was Pattern is Movement, and you best remember it. There are few feelings as pleasing as stumbling across a new band that you absolutely love. I wasn’t two minutes in the door and my head was already bobbing heartily to the break beats of drummer Chris Ward, while the rest of my body tried to look cool and move to the sultry RnB falsetto of singer/keyboardist Andrew Thiboldeaux.
Hailing from Philly, Pattern is Movement has been supporting Yellow Ostrich for the past four weeks, and I’m sure have been making powerful impressions at each stop of the tour. Most of the songs they performed had a relatively simple formula consisting of a playful, music box-like keyboard part, which lead to a super crisp break beat and a smooth vocal melody that could tame a wild grizzly bear. This isn’t to say that the songs got repetitive or boring, quite the opposite actually. Each new song presented different elements that played on the duos strengths, such as Ward’s incredible ability to create anticipation for a snare hit or a cymbal crash. Thiboldeaux’s vocal range was showcased in a cover of D’Angelo’s song, Untitled (How does it feel), where his falsetto soared beautifully on what was by far the sexiest song of the evening.
Thiboldeaux’s skills do not lie solely in his vocal performance, however, but also in his ability to arrange complex pieces featuring layer upon layer of synthesizer to create intense depth. This depth is only compounded by the frequent use of digital harmonizer/vocoder (a la Justin Vernon) technology to further expand his vocal performance. These technological aspects of the performance pair with the acoustic drumming of Ward like strawberries and chocolate. They just go together. And they have been going together for nearly 13 years. Pattern is Movement is a veteran band, and this was completely evident by just how tight their performance was.
Yellow Ostrich front man Alex Schaaf can’t weigh more than 160 pounds, and looks like he could be one hell of an accountant, but when he gets his hands on a guitar, his sound will drop you like a sack of potatoes. Schaaf and crew began their Friday night set at the Turf Club with tracks from their new album, “Cosmos,” which were definitely the heavier, harder rocking songs of the performance. The Brooklyn band dove headfirst into their songs with distorted guitar and a bare bones rhythm section of bass and drums. This simple set up allowed each member to really find his groove, which created a wall of technical sound that hit you in the face like a water balloon.
These loud, distorted songs that started the set were accompanied by a ton of energy from the band. Schaaf wiggled like he had an ant farm in his pants, and would jump around the stage while shredding through his intricate guitar parts. This energy was infectious, and the crowd definitely fed off of it. Yellow Ostrich really seemed like they were excited to be playing for us, a feeling that made me very glad I was in attendance. Between nearly every song, Schaaf would offer a quick “thankyou” with a big smile, and crack a joke or laugh behind the mic with his co-guitarist Jared Van Fleet. Van Fleet and Schaaf have palpable chemistry on stage, and the way their guitar parts intertwine is a treat to see, but even better to hear.
After five songs, some microphone difficulties caused a pause in the action for about five minutes as the sound engineer changed out the mic. This break served as a mini intermission, and the band came out with a set of some of their older songs, which seemed to resonate strongly with the crowd. Perhaps since “Cosmos” is still a new release, or perhaps just because of the excitement of hearing familiar favorites, the second half of the show was definitely received by a more invigorated crowd. Standout jam WHALE had the crowd moving excitedly as Schaaf was able to show off some of his vocal prowess.
A rousing rendition of standout song Marathon Runner served as the last song of their set, and got the crowd revved up to encourage an encore after only a brief pause off stage. The band served up Mary, which was another crowd favorite, for the last song of the evening. All in all, the surprise I felt from just how hard this band could rock was accompanied by my astonishment at how easily they could turn down their energy to transition to calmer parts of their repertoire. Yellow Ostrich is a band I plan to continue tracking, and was glad I had the pleasure to see them in prime form.