Published Apr 01, 2003This hopelessly mismatched line-up opened with Sebadoh/Folk Implosion drummer Russell Pollard's anthemic noisy little combo Alaska. On the first warm night of the year, Alaska built up a fever of early excitement in the willing crowd but to little end, as the rest of the evening would gradually peter out in a fit of mellowness. From the messy rock opening there was a quick, sloppy switch to the incongruous chill of ersatz ingenue Mia Doi Todd. Todd's lilting voice was quickly submerged in a muddle of audience chatter as the energised crowd lost patience with her too-quiet set. Her voice vaguely Beth Gibbons-esque, Todd's juxtaposition with the danceable Folk Implosion just cried right out for a Portishead-style breakbeat. Unfortunately no one nearby was a human beat box. Lulled into a sense of confusion, the crowd embraced the "New" Folk Implosion with a mixture of drooling Lou Barlow fandom and post-hipster scepticism. The band's current line-up, which is almost Sebadoh, continues the extra weird ground paved by the band's earlier incarnation with John Davis. "Easy" and the catchy "Fuse" reached out and grabbed that night, but too many other songs seemed slow and dispassionate, like they got caught in the humidity and never fully took flight. Yet there were moments of those magical "Oh yeah, I remember Lou Barlow!" moments that made everything seem right. Unfortunately these were almost always immediately followed by the vocals needlessly changing back to the "Folk Implosion distortion mic," which would have been distracting if it had been loud enough in the mix, which it wasn't. However, when Barlow belted out, "you stole the soul/we're taking it back," I almost believed him. They could do it too, probably, if no one was guarding it too closely.