Watch This: Vol. 11
by Steven Spoerl
Continuing with the welcome (and, frankly, much-needed) influx of notable live performances, the 11th installment of Watch This saw a fiercely contended battle for inclusion. There were well over 20 viable selections that could have been placed here, though none were more deserving than the five on display. Ranging from a stunningly raw, almost naked take from a solo artist responsible for one of February’s most anticipated records to a raucous run through of a staple from one of the best bands in existence, this round of Watch This absolutely lives up to the series’ title.
1. Angel Olsen – Enemy (La Blogotheque)
Burn Your Fire for No Witness already seems to be shaping up into one of the first legitimate early contenders for an album of the year end-run while also boasting one of the most graceful album titles in recent memory. La Blogotheque has only elevated the anticipation for the record’s release with this powerful clip of what appears to be the record’s centerpiece. “Enemy” is a delicate and nuanced song to begin with- but all of its best qualities become almost unbearably perfect by virtue of the caring cinematography that mirrors the quiet, tragic tension of the song. This is the kind of soul-baring performance that those who were fortunate enough to be present are likely never going to forget.
2. Fucked Up – Magic Word (Live at 285 Kent)
285 Kent was never going to be sustainable, that was part of its appeal. Still, it’s tough to lose something like that so shortly after losing Maxwell’s. That said, fond farewells often call for the most memorable parties. To that end, 285 Kent delivered in full. One of the acts to play the venues final show were Canadian hardcore icons Fucked Up. Pitchfork was on hand to capture the band ripping through “Magic Word” from 2008’s polaris-winning The Chemistry of Common Life, one of 2008’s best records. This is another instance of something that’s not likely to be forgotten by the people fortunate enough to have found themselves shoulder-to-shoulder on what many came to consider hallowed ground. For everyone else, there’s always this video to live vicariously through.
3. Tenement – Rock Eating People (Live at Cactus Club)
Another week, another instance of a video that, given recent events, was always going to be posted in this installment. Simply put, Tenement may very well be the best band on the planet right now. Their recorded output and live shows have consistently ranked among the finest anyone could hope to come across and they’re (impossibly) getting better as they go. That little moment at around 2:12? Chills. Every time. Even if this hadn’t been the covered show last week, the video would’ve been included for both that moment and the insane tambourine freakout that happens shortly after. Seriously, best band. A sincere thanks to Don Giovanni for being on hand to film this.
4. Night Sun – Baby Baby (Jam in the Van)
Curtis Harding has been hyped beyond belief by Burger Records over the past few months and the series Harding did for Jam in the Van (both with Night Sun and as a solo act) completely justifies their faith. Of the three tracks the session offers up, “Baby Baby” may be the finest. A soul-driven throwback R&B number, everything falls completely into place to create something special. From the pitch-perfect harmonies to the reverb-ed out effects, an entire era of music isn’t so much evoked as it is genuinely resurrected. “Baby Baby” feels both of the time and like a lost relic, proving, as Burger’s been saying all along, Curtis Harding is a name to watch out for.
5. Grass House – Faun (POPnews and Citazine)
Only half a year ago, this band was rattling the walls of London’s Hoxton Square Pub & Grill as a part of the East End Live festival. Since then, the band released one of the best songs of 2013 and an excellent LP, A Sun Full and Drowning, shortly after. Their showcase set at that festival was a thing of beauty, eccentric and ear-shattering in all the right places. Here, though, the band goes acoustic for an inspired take on “Faun” that finds them winding up with characteristically stunning results. It’s nearly impossible to pin this band down, so, as is sometimes the case, it’s best to just sit back and listen attentively. One of the most intriguing UK acts going right now and definitely one to watch closely.