Friday, August 14, 2009

Head Automatica @ The Black Cat, Washington D.C. 7/24/09

So, this was my first time seeing Head Automatica, and their opener, Cubic Zirconia (or Zerconia, I am not sure). I started the evening by getting REALLY DRUNK at the bar downstairs at the Black Cat, but was unfortunately too sober to handle Head Automatica and Daryl Palumbo's over-enthusiastic crotch grabbing. Not to mention we were WAY too close to the stage. As in, between sets I was sitting on the edge of it. Which meant that a) Daryl's crotch grabbing was less than a foot from my face and every time he leaned down I had to lean back and b) Lanie almost took the neck of the bass guitar to her head.

Cubic Zirconia are fronted by an entirely adorable black girl who was jiggling around barefoot and having to hoist herself back into her dress between every song and I wanted to take her home and make out with her. I'm shallow, what can I say. Todd Weinstock, formerly of GlassJaw, is in this band. He has ugly hair and makes weird faces. Their single is called "Fuck Work" and Lanie says it's really terrible on their Myspace but it was kind of a blast live. Or I was drunk. One or the other or maybe both.

Head Automatica were.... not what I was expecting. First of all, Daryl comes out in a plaid shirt and loafers and an old man cardigan and a fucking ... fucking... I don't know, some really bad hair, and he's drunker than I am. And he grabs his crotch. LIKE A LOT. An Unbelievable Amount. I've seen crotch grabbing before. I enjoy Cobra Starship. I was not ready for this. Not to mention I've seen his n00dz and I knew exactly what what he was grabbing looked like and oh God.

They played a bunch of new songs, which is a blower because nobody knows them because the album isn't out yet and it's kind of a fun suck at a show to just hear a bunch of songs you don't even know. They only played half of Young Hollywood, which was weird. Their encore was Solid Gold Telephone, and by that time I was too sober to handle what was going on anymore and I just wanted to get as far away from Daryl as the room could let me.

In conclusion: if I see Head Automatica again, it will be from farther away and I will spend the whole time drunk, not just part of it.

- Julie

Having previously experienced the crotch-grabbing of Head Automatica and Cubic Zirconia's music through their myspace (cubiczirconiamusic), I went in with a lot of expectations. Cubic Zirconia was going to be painful and Head Automatica was going to incite riots and, yes, a grabbed crotch would be in my face the whole night. However, I had no idea that Glassjaw's former guitarist, Todd Weinstock, was going to be playing with CZ. I can't say for sure whether he made their music more entertaining (he pulls a lot of faces when he plays) or they are victims of overproduction but I will say that they did not suck live at all. "Fuck Work" was a lot longer than the version posted online and it was a hell of a lot better. Tiombe Lockhart, the lead singer, was every bit as adorable as Julie said.

When Head Automatica took the stage, I was a bit floored. It was evident between their first and second albums that their sound had softened, taking on a more conventional pop sound, rather than the aggressive dance pop that they had when they started. Also, the last time I saw Head Automatica, the band was brand new and faithful Palumbo fans were still fresh off the breakup of Glassjaw and the release of HA's Decadence, ready to rock out, thrash around and mosh along with the music. I went home with bruised lungs that took a couple days to recover. At this show, there wasn't even a barracade. Things would be more subdued, that was obvious. If it wasn't clear to everyone, it would be by the time that the band took the stage. Daryl was dressed in something that a respectable grandfather might wear. I had no idea what we'd gotten ourselves into.

In concert, Head Automatica is a little more improvisational than you might think, given the sharp rhythm that most of their songs have. Daryl does not stick strictly to the melody or cadence of the songs which, depending on your desire to sing along, either offers a fresh sound or ruins a nice night of group karaoke. Between the style the music took on and the fact that they played so many new songs that meant the audience could only shut up and listen, it was obvious why this concert took on a much more subdued quality than previous shows may have had. The band was energetic, but not aggressive. I was sort of amazed that any amount of rocking-out could happen but "The Razor" was just as great as the first time I heard it, as was "Beating Heart Baby" which got a great crowd reaction. The rest of the audience (that I could see on the other end of the stage, while rocking-out plenty myself) seemed to share my enthusiasm.

The single-song encore of "Solid Gold Telephone" was...fucking weird, I can't lie. It was a strange mid-tempo choice for an encore but given the tone of the rest of the show, I can understand the choice. I left the show satisfied but not sweaty, extremely happy but not blown away. Maybe I had the wrong expectations, or maybe I just wish I knew more of the songs that they played so I could appreciate them properly.

- Lanie

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