9 MARCH 2010
THE FILLMORE AUDITORIUM
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Believe me when I tell you, you need someone ... real.
I usually have an idea of how a night at a show might go. I'll go with some friends, and sometimes the issue of the opening bands comes to light. "Well, we don't really have to show up until ten o'clock, 'cos that's when [insert band name here] starts."
I'm always keen on catching the opening bands. I reckon it works like this: You never know who you're going to hear - and it may just be freaking awesome.
So imagine my happiness when I went to go see Little Boots at the Fillmore on the 9th of March 2010 - and discovered an excellent and interesting synth-pop number from Brooklyn, New York called Class Actress. Good fun ensued!
Class Actress was up on stage first. Before they showed up, the general disinterest exhibited by the crowd was typical for any venue anywhere in the world -- flowing like syrup, with folks supping their beverages and tipping their beers -- but as soon as they took the helm, people took notice.
As did I! Vocalist Elizabeth Harper, drummer Mark Richardson, and synth-man Scott Rosenthal took control of the room within the space of a half-hour set and stole my heart. Such passion. Such beauty. There's a feeling you have when you're in a taxi cab late at night in Paris, flying through traffic under the sodium lights that flicker and flutter over your head as you are jetted through the ink of twilight. I think Class Actress have taken that sensation and transposed it to their debut EP, Journal of Ardency.
After catching them on their opening slot, I have to admit I was intrigued. I was even a little disappointed with the rest of the show, which included Dragonette, a lovely pop number from Toronto, Canada, and -- of course -- Little Boots herself. It was remarkable; there was such a sensual energy emitting from the Fillmore's dusty black stage that evening. Here was their setlist:
All The Saints
LMLMLUU2 (Love Me Love Me Like You Used To)
Careful What You Say
Journal Of Ardency
Let Me Take You Out
Long after the show was over, and Little Boots' little after-party DJing at the Triple Crown on Market and Octavia had faded into the background of subconscious bleeps and bloops (I love saying those words!), I found myself thinking about Class Actress and the spell they wove during that delightful half-hour set. I hadn't purchased their EP at the merch booth, seeing as it was only available on vinyl and, frankly, I haven't owned a turntable for quite some time. Finally I thought to myself, Jesus Christ Thomas, just buy the fucking thing already. iTunes, you dolt. And so I purchased it, and listened to it, and then I listened to it again. And again.
Wow, this record is good. It literally breathes fumes of love, wanting, and lust in intense wafts of Harper's sighing (and quite sexy) voice. Journal of Ardency, in that respect, is aptly named.
The Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines ardency as thus:
A characterization of warmth of feeling of feeling typically expressed in eager zealous support or activity.And now I sit here at my desk writing this, whilst "Someone Real" emanates from my speakers for the fourteenth time, soaring in fits and starts during its epic 7:33 length as tendrils of Harper's smoky vocals hover delicately over a lovely shimmering synth, a dull throbbing bass, and snaky background noises and drumbeats. Thrilling stuff, really. I would recommend this record to anybody. And this song is the closer of the EP!
Another song to consider is the title track, "Journal of Ardency," a slinky and dangerous-sounding ode to a duplicitous lover in which, over a dark European synth, Harper delivers an excellent line (one of many):
Why can't you say to me I mean something to you?'Cause everybody knows, everybody seesThat this is the thing you do,Do to me.
And then there's "Adolescent Heart," a shimmery and buoyant track that brings to mind the best of '80s synth-pop band Book Of Love. Sure the music's floating and cheery, filled with bells and the attitude of a sunny spring afternoon; but the lyrics sing of heartbreak, emotional passive-aggressiveness, and what sounds like a very unfortunate conversation on the telephone.
I like to think of the EP and how it makes me feel when I listen to it a bit like this (forget the Paris taxi metaphor for a moment):
Imagine it's a sunny Sunday morning, and you wake up in bed with your partner close to you and the sun, it's filtering through the curtains and dappling the atmosphere with its muted rays and you both smile at each other. It's a lovely feeling, and this is a lovely piece of work. I, for one, cannot wait for their first full-length!
But, as I like to say, don't take my word for it. From their debut EP Journal of Ardency, here is Class Actress' "Journal of Ardency." Enjoy!