Published Apr 08, 2011After a long string of small, limited releases, both Jeans Wilder and Dirty Beaches have recently issued debut LPs that have been garnering a newfound attention, attracting many new fans along the way. While both lie at opposite ends of the lo-fi pop spectrum, their loop-based recordings actually share a lot in common. Dirty Beaches tends towards the darker side while Jeans Wilder can be syrupy sweet, which one might think would make for a great double bill. Well, the crowd got one out of two.
Dirty Beaches (aka Alex Zhang Hungtai) had a simple setup, which involved him setting off a loop and alternating between playing guitar and singing. Sounds pretty boring on paper but Huntai was incredibly magnetic on stage. Taking on the spirit of early rock'n'roll crooners like Elvis and Johnny Burnette, then passing it through the manic intensity of Alan Vega, Huntai was a man absolutely possessed on stage. Staring out beyond the audience while backed by his midnight, David Lynch-ian loops, he yelped intensely into his handheld mic and pulled violent noise from his guitar. The packed room at the Waldorf wasn't quite sure if it was witnessing a rock'n'roll exorcism or a man going mad live on stage. Either way, the crowd was mesmerized and stood back in awe during his short half-hour set.
Jeans Wilder (aka Andrew Caddick) on the other hand has a lot of work to do on his stage presence and overall show. Standing in front of a laptop and occasionally pulling a melody out of a mini Korg keyboard, Caddick was the polar opposite of Dirty Beaches engaging set. In fact, there was absolutely no trace of the inventive and incredibly catchy songs that grace Nice Trash, his recent LP on France's Atelier Ciseaux. His listless vocals and non-existent stage show (he even made the house turn off the stage lighting) were weak enough for the room to be almost completely cleared halfway through his set. To be fair, he told the crowd that he was getting sick, though it seems doubtful that chugging cough syrup between songs was helping any. A mega dose of vitamin C or an adrenalin needle wouldn't have been enough to save him.