Tapes ‘n Tapes at the Paradise Rock Club on May 19

A review of Tapes ‘n Tapes at the Paradise Rock Club on May 19, 2007

, Staff Writer

Tapes ‘n Tapes owe their entire career to the Pixies. In fact, they probably owe their entire career to the Pixies’ “Debaser.” But who in the indie rock community doesn’t, really. Tapes ‘n Tapes mined the discordant beauty and the shifting song textures of Boston’s beloved Frank Black and company on their standout debut The Loon, and Boston was treated to the fruits of that work on Saturday night at the Paradise.

The band began as The Loon does, with faithful reproductions of the frenetic shuffle of “Just Drums” and the groove of “The Iliad.” After the raucous “Beach Girls” from the band’s self-titled EP Tapes unveiled their first new song of the night. What started with an easy bounce built, twisted, and built some more into an epic swell that inspired the guy next to me to shout “Oh my God” with glee as the song twisted one more time and burst upon the crowd. It would appear that Tapes ‘n Tapes are not in danger of a sophomore slump.

“In Houston” and “10 Gallon Ascots” were delivered back to back, each slightly altered in the live setting. The former featured a sped up thrash outro, and the latter allowed lead singer and guitar player Josh Grier to show off what must be the world’s most amazing distortion pedal along with his ability to scream.

Stage banter was kept to a minimum, but Grier did acknowledge the fact that the band was driving around on a tour bus with a huge picture of Derek Jeter on the side (the tour is being sponsored by 2K sports), assuring the crowd that the band did not approve. “We fucking hate the Yankees,” Grier said before announcing another new song. This song began in a 12/8 time signature before morphing into a driving rock that sealed the deal on the yet-to-be-recorded second album.

Getting back to the old stuff, on “Omaha” drummer Jeremy Hanson was assisted by an electronic drum track reminiscent of David Grey’s “Babylon” in the sweet, sensitive portion of the show. Grier’s distortion pedal brought the energy level back up towards the end of “Manitoba” which led into the frenetic “Cowbell.” Another unidentified song sported a new-Modest Mouse stomp and the lyrics “When you pop the question / I’ll be at your side.”

The crowd favorite was “Insistor,” which Grier introduced by saying, “I liked Boston before I was in a band, and now that I’m in one and here I like it even more.” The crowd danced and sang along passionately to the line “And when you rush I’ll call your name like Harvard Square holds all inane,” even though the line itself seems pretty inane. The show ended with the complex beauty of “Jakov’s Suite,” and the band left the stage without returning for an encore.

Tapes ‘n Tapes proved that they are more than just good students of classic indie rock bands like the Pixies, Pavement, or Modest Mouse. They’ve done their schooling and internalized the lessons. Some critics qualified their praise of The Loon by saying that the album was nothing more than a well done copy of more original, groundbreaking music. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of those same critics will have plenty of good things to say about the next Tapes ‘n Tapes album very soon

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