Review: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum + Dub Trio + Faun Fables @ Turner Hall (4/14)

sleepytime-gorilla
Words by Andrew Falk

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum probably has a great batting average for blowing audiences’ minds. Their show is a unique spectacle: a combination of theatrical pomp, dark humor and imagery, complex and progressive songs, bizarre homemade instruments, and perfectly executed performances. Tuesday’s show was no exception.

I’ve seen Sleepytime five times now, and they haven’t disappointed me once. They challenge their audience by constantly focusing on new material, often premiering songs on tour that won’t appear on an album for years. The members have been busy with other projects recently, including putting out solo albums and having babies (they have two infants on tour with them, and violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt currently has “a creature inside her that she is tending to,” according to frontman Nils Frykdahl’s onstage banter), so the amount of brand new material on this tour has decreased. There were two lengthy, stunning new songs, including the immediate standout “The Last Human Being,” which was instantly memorable and powerful; using techniques they’ve never used before, but still feeling like a Sleepytime song should.

The rest of the set was mostly drawn from their most recent album, 2007’s In Glorious Times, which is definitely a grower. Songs like “Angle of Repose” and “Only Dance” sound better to my ears than they did two years ago, and the band has played these songs so many times by now that they have perfected every nuance and can tweak tiny elements as needed for maximum righteousness and power. And they threw the audience some favorite older tunes as well, including “Phthisis” and “1997 (Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s…),” which went over like a cow lowered into the raptor cage.

Faun Fables, featuring Nils from Sleepytime and his partner Dawn McCarthy, opened the show with a set composed almost entirely of new songs. It might be because I’m not familiar with their newest EP, but the songs didn’t feel as strong as those from their previous albums. They still let their freak flag fly, as they always do, and it was solid. Dub Trio played as well, and their inside-out instrumental math rock combined with trace elements of their namesake genre provided a nice modern-sounding contrast to the Victorian vampire music of the headlining act.

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