Turning Upside Downby Roger Young, images by Sweatface McGee / 01.02.2011
The Frown present an enigma of access; the layers of the performance, the stage props and the funny masks. The perceived pretentiousness often turns people off before they give the music a chance. At The Woods on Friday night there is an extra layer or three for them to hide behind; the sound quality isn’t fantastic, they’re performing without the energy of Max on drums and inconsiderate photographers stalk the stage. While The Frown are having an amazing gig, down front the audience is not quite getting it.
Behind all the papiermaché trees and quirk The Frown are actually a deeply affecting and beautiful band; the thumping and daydreamysqueltches, the beat dragging like distant machine gun fire cutting through televised loins, the changing rhythms, they all combine into some kind of teen sandpaper love making; sore and beautiful. But above all it’s Eve Rakow’s voice (and not just the sound of it but the way cuts through all the fuzz and grind of the music) that provides the counterpoint that takes The Frown beyond. It’s an affected and fragile performance made more beautiful by the obvious insecurity that spurs Rakow’s need for a stage persona.
But, like I said, there was a lack of connection with the crowd at The Woods; the music wants to pull me in but doesn’t manage to tip me over. It’s not a great gig sonically. I want it to destroy me and I feel it’s pull but slowly piercing this experience is a giant photographer in a white T-shirt with a huge camera and flash. He feels the need to get right in the performers faces and shoot; his large white back blocking the audience from seeing the band at all. His presence seems to give the other photographers permission to get in on the act and soon him and a young female photographer are forming a wall making it impossible to see the gig from down front.
As The Frown finish their set they are joined by MTKIDU for a track but the photographer douche has so ruined the experience to the point that I can’t stand the thought of watching and listening anymore. So I wander off into the other room. I mean I totally get that The Frown are an exciting new band and that they provide a lot of visual fodder but audience should be more important than one guy’s flickr account.When I come back to stage side Twelv& Thesis have started up but, and maybe it’s just my sour mood, they just come across as crowd hyping bullshit, so I wander off into the darkness to annoy pretty things.
*All images © Justin “Sweatface” McGee.