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- Effi Briest »
Headlining tonight are New York City’s Effi Briest, who peddle the kind of bizarre, gothic drone-folk (yep, drone-folk, folks) that enraptures many present, presumably baffling others. Although purportedly a septet I count a largely static six this evening (all female), taking the standard guitar-bass-drums template and adorning it with blaring clarinet, soft accordion and all manner of percussive tools, shakers and bells.
It’s certainly a unique show – reference points include Siouxsie and the Banshees with a trace of Bat for Lashes (if you'd like to keep things a little more contemporary). This second reference is largely aesthetic, mind – the ‘Briest a not unattractive set of predominantly raven-haired maidens – for where Natasha Khan evokes a childlike world of naïve wonder, this band deal in something altogether eerier and unsettling; pagan chants mingle with Sara Shaw’s fuzzy lead guitar while moodily propulsive bass-lines push things along at a resolutely languid pace.
Their set isn’t so much ineffectual as largely inconsequential – although intermittently injected with a palpable sense of drama (such as near its close, expressive vocalist Kelsey Barrett repeatedly wailing “It didn’t breathe!” against eminent discord), all too often the rhythmic elements are too loose, too scattershot to really hypnotise in the manner you sense Effi Briest aim to.
The encore (demanded before the band really have the time to depart the stage) consists of a song about both “a troll in a forest” and “going crazy”, beginning gently and sweeter than most of the prior before shuddering bass-line and shakers kick in. It's slightly more urgent and intriguing in tone, though ultimately not quite enough to truly redeem matters for Effi Briest this evening.
Photo: Brian Tamborello