Monday, March 23, 2009

Bishop Allen @ Plush

Bishop Allen builds great, catchy pop music out of its most basic elements - up-tempo guitars (major key all the way), shiny harmonies and an incessant, head-nodding beat. Aside from an uncanny mastery of those basics, Bishop Allen makes its name with additional flourishes that set the band apart - marimba, xylophone, melodica and extra hints of percussion everywhere.

The band started its post-SXSW tour last night at Plush, its first trip to Tucson since July, with a new record in hand and plenty of buzz (from The New York Times, among others). Drawing fairly well for a post-Spring Break Sunday night, the band had a bouncy and enthusiastic crowd.

The band manages to spend most of its stage time creating the type of mood-lifting pop music that seems like its constantly soaring, with an all-singers-on-deck catchiness that sounds sweeter as it goes along.

Bishop Allen comes from the sunny, angst-free part of Williamsburg, marking their own territory with clever and catchy tunes and a jittery stage presence, with singer Justin Rice especially, as if he's a being wound up by the songs, or else shaking his legs to get help get them out.

"The Ancient Common Sense of Things," from the new Grrr... sounds a bit looser live, but the multi-vocal effect worked just as well. Other highlights were "Empire City," (from 2003's Charm School) one of the band's most straight-ahead rockers; "True Or False," sung by percussionist/marimba player Darbie Nowatka, who could easily take lead vocals for a whole album - Bishop Allen or her own; and the absolutely irrestible "Click, Click, Click, Click," which is good enough to make me forget about its all-too-easy commercial applications.

Bishop Allen - The Ancient Common Sense of Things (live)
Bishop Allen - Shanghied (live)

More Tour Dates:

1 comment:

janet said...

Ahaha where's the angst- free part of Williamsburg? And if you say East Williamsburg it's called Bushwick people...

That said, they are a damn catchy band, I was suprised they were from Brooklyn when I first heard them, I was thinking like mid- West or something, where sincere pop indie rock seems to be from. They're also going to be performing on Josh Schwartz's new show Rockville CA ( which is going to have two live performances of theirs available for streaming and some interviews.