Teengirl Fantasy at the Gargoyle, 2/12/12: Review
Stephen Houldsworth Teengirl Fantasy makes do.
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.