Teengirl Fantasy at the Gargoyle, 2/12/12: Review

teengirl-fantasy-review.jpg
Stephen Houldsworth
Teengirl Fantasy makes do.
Teengirl Fantasy
The Gargoyle
February 12, 2012

The life of a buzz band is a tough one, and Teengirl Fantasy has done serious time in the limelight. Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss effortlessly weave an organic mélange of electronic bounce and percolating two-step. After the release of its highly anticipated 7AM, the band set the indie blogosphere aflame, earning an opening slot on a Crystal Castles tour and even a Brenmar remix. Last night, however, all that hype and talent seemed to mean diddly-squat to St. Louis.

I arrived at the Gargoyle at 8:15 p.m. in hopes of catching a good spot. It was to my surprise to find myself the sole spectator. My anticipation for the evening was slowly replaced by disappointment. There were a number of possible factors keeping the general public from the show: The 29-degree weather, the fact that it was a Sunday, Roller Disco hangovers, the Grammys or even the passing of pop diva Whitney Houston. But maybe, just maybe, it was the lack of promotion. No posters to be seen, for a start. Here is a venue that is free to students and allows the general public 75 online tickets and 25 the day of the show. And barely any students show up?

On the strength of the students' string of frantic last-minute text messages and the few people who showed up to actually see the band, a miniature crowd assembled for the evening. Slated to open were two student DJs, Andrew Nathan and DJ KR3. Taking note from the EDM zeitgeist, the DJs played a mix of progressive house, neo-trance, and wobbles of dubstep, peppered with a few radio single remixes for good measure. The two seemed to be a product of the 21st century school of DJing: troll the Internet, learn the style, buck the trend.

Is it customary to have two student DJs open a show with each performing a 40-plus minute set? Why wasn't a band on this bill? Surely Washington University has some student contingent of artistic, electronic-based musicians. Where were the bedroom jammers? Why wasn't Ra Cailum on this? Adult Fur? Even 18andCounting? Not to say that there is anything wrong with the two DJs. Surely they would flourish with a weekly at Atomic or the Upstairs Lounge, but this setting was not to their advantage.

Near 10:30 p.m., Teengirl Fantasy quickly set up its gear, searching through a copper wire jungle of digital and analog equipment. Amid frustration with the Gargoyle's sound booth, the two began their set with volume levels slowly reaching a suitable plateau. With dramatic synth arppegiation and live drum pad accompaniment, the duo's sharpened chops shined through with freeform phrases morphing into "Dancing In Slow Motion." Reminiscent of Repo era Black Dice and the '90s house-inspired sounds of Pictureplane, its fluid playing oscillated between sample-based repetition and flamboyant melodies.

At this point in its relatively short lifespan, playing has become second nature to Teengirl Fantasy, allowing the audience to become a contributing variable in the live performance. When there are fewer than 30 people standing ten feet away from the stage, it can be...awkward. With no real "give-and-take" from last night's "crowd," the two had no choice but to perform perfectly, albeit devoid of personality. Perhaps they couldn't get into it because of the three break-dancers in the back or the blatant apathy heard in the chatter of certain concertgoers. Still, Teengirl Fantasy soldiered on through its bass-heavy set.

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8 comments
DJ DISNEY CHANNEL
DJ DISNEY CHANNEL

For the record, I would have killed to play this show. I had no idea it was happening. Whatever people were doing to promote this, they need to find a new medium. All I can say is that I USED to know what was going down at The Gargoyle and now I don't. No disrespect, but that is what will step up presence at shows. I am sure there are plenty of people who would have been interested in this show if they could have been reached via social media, etc.

Oh
Oh

"Telling that the most noteworthy or legendary event that has happened in that place in the past decade has been a riot at a mash up DJ gig"

First off, that was not a riot. It was an overzealous rent-a-cop that tased a drunk guy who decided to take off his pants. There were no other problems with the crowd, who all left the venue without incident. Second, the reason that it was legendary is because Girl Talk played a 2am set at a frat house to make up for the premature ending to the Gargoyle show.

Are there any legendary events over at the Billiken Club in the past decade? I can't recall any, and I think we're all in agreement that the Billiken Club is a much nicer place. The Girl Talk fiasco was more a result of the circumstances than the venue.

Oh
Oh

It's a shame they didn't end up revamping the Gargoyle when they added classrooms to Mallinckrodt after the dining hall moved. There was talk about moving the Gargoyle to the old seating area that doubled as a dance studio (near the south end of the building) but that obviously didn't happen. Too bad the acoustics in Graham Chapel are so crazy. Didn't stop U2 and the Velvet Underground from playing there ages ago (or José Gonzalez a few years ago).

Gargoyle member
Gargoyle member

As a member of the gargoyle, some of these criticisms have base, and others are off. We put up a lot of posters, we have tabled in dining halls, and we have tried to advertise a lot. The student body knows about these events. Its simply that most of them have no musical taste, would rather get drunk at a frat, or has too much work. The concert probably should not have been on a sunday, but we are trying to change this. We're trying to get funding for better sound equipment and a better venue, but it's hard.

Gargoyle Blues
Gargoyle Blues

And sometimes taking the big college money gig isn't the best choice....

they at least got their gas and hotel money but at what price?

The Gargoyle has been an atrocious room for music for decades now.

Telling that the most noteworthy or legendary event that has happened in that place in the past decade has been a riot at a mash up DJ gig (Girl Talk).

Having seen shows in that room since the beginning of the 1990s (Stereolab, Buffalo Tom, Bikini Kill, Yo La Tengo, etc) while always happy to see them secure artists that might have otherwise skipped St. Louis, any enthusiasm was immediately dulled and 'reality checked' knowing I was going to see a band in a horrible space, with horrible sound and most likely with at least 50% of the crowd being horrible disinterested students.

If you could have a beer in the place at least maybe you could dull some of the pain of being there but that isn't even allowed.

I appreciate the booking committee that has done an impressive job with the booking all of these years and I know that most of this is out of their control. That said, there is more to booking a room than signing the contracts and greeting the band upon their arrival.

Oh
Oh

I had some similar experiences during my time at WashU. I was one of about 20 people watching YACHT and Chairlift at one show. There was another punk show that was almost empty (maybe the Death Set?) You never know how the draw will be. Mountain Goats was filled to capacity when they came, and I thought there wouldn't be many people there. I didn't know they were still popular with the college crowd.

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