Tuesday, 24 April 2012

GBM loves Music: Dark Dark Dark @ el Lokal 16/04/12

So whilst on a visit to Zurich to see Husband before I finally make the big move we decided to check out our first ever live gig in the city. Dark Dark Dark an American band from Minneapolis were playing a small venue called el Lokal on Gesssnerallee next to the river. Hearing a band live for the first time or the sight of a cool, ascetically pleasing new music venue can fill me with all the awe and wonderment of a child's first visit to the zoo. El Lokal did not disappoint.

Once through the main door you are greeted with the first floor bar and a breathtaking N-shaped staircase the encumbers much of the rear wall of the building. The venue itself has an interesting vibe with stickers, pictures and graffiti covering it’s walls, toilet doors similar to those flapping doors of an old time western saloon and random roads signs and brick-o-brac scattered throughout. The stage is tiny and not too high off the ground giving the feeling the band is right amongst the crowd, heightening the intimacy. Ascending the stairs we notice each step is divided down the middle by white line, the purpose of which became apparent once the band graced the stage and people began to seat themselves on the staircase. Each right hand-half step now became the best seats in the house whilst the left hand side was left free to avoid fire hazard, something I’ve noted for my next trip back. At the top of the stairs we are greeted by a very cute and friendly barmaid who responds to my ‘Sprichen Sie English’ with the warmest of smiles and a heart warming ‘Yes’. We order our reasonably priced beers and take a seat near the edge of the ledge with a great view down to the stage below. It is then that Husband points out to me the incredibly huge human model skeleton hanging from the rafters. Yes, I do think I might have begun a slight love affair with el Lokal.

It was a cold dark rainy night, none more better suited to ‘Dark Dark Dark’s’ somber and beautiful style of music. The band land on the stage at 8:30 and it’s an unusual sight. Five very individual looking people, no cohesion in style, looks, a mish-mash of flavors and tastes that doesn’t look like it should work when altogether. That’s the beauty of music however because as soon as they begin to play it’s perfect unity and cohesion and then I get it.

As an avid gig goer it is incredibly refreshing to see a band tour with lesser seen instruments and so it was thoroughly enjoyable to listen to the delicate resonance of the flute and the accordion. In fact the accordion player is a revelation, at times giving me goosebumps with the Parisian sound he bought to the auditory ensemble. Then there’s Nona Marie Invie’s lead vocal, hauntingly beautiful with element’s of ‘Regina Spektor’ in her voice. When she begins to sing the band's cover of their ‘friend’s’ Elephant Micah’s song ‘Wild Goose Chase’ the hairs on the back of my arm begin to stand on end.

It’s at this point I realise how amazing the sound setup is at el Lokal. Scanning the crowd I get the sense that for the majority of the attendees this is their first taste of ‘Dark Dark Dark’ as I appeared to be the only person who was singing along (though this could be a very un-Swiss thing to do) but by the end of their set the crowds’ reaction was such the called for not one but two encores (however the first one seemed very planned as we on the second floor balcony could see the band come off stage walk up the stairs and stand at the top for a few seconds only to return back to the stage). The first brought one of my favorite songs of theirs ‘Bright Bright Bright’ in all of its eerie pleasantry. The second encore saw Nona Marie return to the stage solo, to preform a Kate Bush song to finish off the proceedings. A fine end to mine and Husband’s first live music experience together in Switzerland.

Standout Songs: ‘Celebrate’, ‘Bright Bright Bright’, ‘Wild Goose Chase’ and ‘Daydreaming’

Wish they had played: ‘The Hand’ and ‘Make Time’

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