August 01, 2002

I Like Strawberries

Écoutez et répétez...

Emitting from the tape recorder sitting on the teacher's desk at the front of the class, this directive would precede each set of French phrases that comprised our vocabulary drills. "Listen and repeat" -- and repeat and repeat and repeat... is part of how Imperial Teen works their charm, picking a phrase, working it quietly, louder, insistently, constantly, to the breaking point... Ivanka, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna... propelling it with a pop and a sigh, girl/boy vocals alternately breathy, whiny, snarly.

The band unleashed their pop mantras at Maxwell's last night, getting us into the groove from the get-go. Though my get-go was a bit slo-mo, waiting in a long, long line at the Port Authority for the next bus to Jersey (whaddya know, the buses are still full-up with people that late at night, requiring a wait for another). So I rushed into Maxwell's halfway into what I think was the Imperial Teen's first song ("Ivanka"), scooting through the crowd and hopping onto the first step of the riser against the left wall.

We were informed a few songs in that this show was being recorded for a planned live album (!), and we all gladly volunteered our syncopated hand-claps to "Baby" to replicate that bit from the band's latest, On. And then more from the new album mixed with the best from their previous two, California pure pop spiked with obsession and frustration and a bit of melodic drone-on.

The crowd was a bit noisy, really chatty in-between songs, but it was okay, it made sense -- everyone was smiling and having a good time. This isn't a band you stand around quietly, reverently waiting for the first few notes of the opening guitar line.

At one point the band mentioned that they were in New York this whole week -- "So you guys wanna hang out?" They're in town opening for The Breeders at Bowery Ballroom the next four nights in a row, which they also mentioned, but (pointedly, notably) without uttering the words "The Breeders" once. Hmmm.

We got about an hour of music, plus a two-song encore ("You're One" and "Balloon" - woo-ooh, woo-ooh, woo-ooh, woo!), before the two guys and two gals of Imperial Teen made their final exit through the crowd. I made my way to the merch table being manned by bassist Jone to see the goods for sale: t-shirts, the CD and vinyl, poster, and even a pin set featuring all the band members that I now kind of wish I'd gotten. Very cool. I did however purchase a t-shirt because they had girl shirts -- yes!! Nice style, not too big, so I will actually be able to wear it.

Then it was back to the bus stop for me, where my previous negativity about NJ Transit reversed itself a bit upon seeing the #126 pulling up on-time at a quarter to one in the AM. A 10-minute trip back to Manhattan, ahhh...

Posted by nstop at August 01, 2002 12:51 PM


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