The Books / Greg Davis La Sala Rossa, Montreal QC - May 3, 2006

Over the course of three records, Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong of the Books have carved out a peculiar niche for themselves, one that’s too ho-hum and countrified to be austere laptoppers yet too technologically bound to be as genuinely folky. And yet their fans would argue that they’re equally talented on both fronts. Folk ambient producer Greg Davis was up first. He sat cross-legged at the front of the stage with his laptop to his side and bells in hands. Above him, a twirling carousel of mushrooms careened against a screen. Like many of his Kranky compatriots, Davis uses a laptop to push the dronier aspects of psychedelic folk into formless but warm spaces and he went over well with the young crowd. The Sala was packed by the time the Books took the stage to a rapturous reception. Onstage, the duo kept their techiness to a minimum, referencing their computers mostly between songs. With a guitar and cello between them, Zammuto and de Jong delved into 13 songs culled from across their albums, though leaning more heavily toward Lost and Safe. The Books live experience is more audio/visual performance than typical music gig; they sit beneath a large screen and play their songs as soundtracks to carefully orchestrated home videos and archival footage. The interplay between music and movie is what makes the performance appealing. Together, the visceral soundtracks make for a homespun sentimentality that only adds to the band’s charm.