by Ziggy Merritt
This past Friday, Boot & Saddle saw a seamless set from experimental electronic musician Dayve Hawk, better known as Memory Tapes since 2009. Computer Magic and School Dance additionally opened on what was one of the final few stops on their nationwide July tour. Thankfully no visible bouts of exhaustion hampered three all-too-brief performances.
This said, my second visit to this venue went noticeably smoother than my previous experience. No snooty doorman or dead audiences marred the energy in the room that evening. Instead this was replaced by a touch of good-natured awkwardness as School Dance came onstage. Vibrant pastels of plastic flowers decorated their instruments as they began a dreamy set accented by the addition of melodic vibraphone provided by drummer, Sam Tremble. They found their groove with an appreciative though oddly dispersed audience. Part of the floor looked as though it had been carved out by a spade as people, including myself, filled out the room from the periphery to create an empty half moon near the front of the stage. On their last song, enchanting vocalist, Allison Lorenzen invited someone to invent an interpretive dance in this very space, which disappointingly was not fulfilled.
Computer Magic came on not long after, resembling something you might hear on Johnny Jewel’s label, Italians Do it Better. Mastermind, Danielle “Danz” Johnson brought a magnetic personality to the stage as she worked her way through a busy set of soulful synths and hooks that came alive with her darkly cosmic and personal lyrics. If you ever wanted to see a Philip K. Dick novel come alive in musical form (which, come on, of course you do), Computer Magic might just be for you. Standouts from the evening included “Running” and “Mindstate.”
Yet, the main act of the evening was not about to be outdone. Memory Tapes came alive in a way that was so singular compared to Hawk’s previous releases. Aiding him was the impressive virtuosity of bassist, Dan Henry who was able to render the bass lines as intricately as they are performed on Seek Magic, Player Piano, and Grace/Confusion. I found myself surprised by a set that truly showcased Hawk’s multi-instrumental talent, particularly the sound and style of guitar-playing that found itself somewhere between the jangly affectations of Johnny Marr or more fittingly, Robin Guthrie. The set never gave out, each song transitioning seamlessly from one track to the next and amping up the energy in the crowd through and through. A brief pause by Hawk to announce the last song was the only interruption in the performance.
Fittingly the night ended with a rendition of crowd-favorite “Bicycle”, which remixed the finale of the track into the whole composition of the song itself. By the way, embellishing on what might arguably be the best part of a song is always a good idea folks. Henry’s bass hummed alongside a guitar that gave off nostalgic chillwave-era vibes throughout: as serene of a finale as I can think of. I try not to throw out the word “unforgettable” too often as it has a definite pompous pretense, but maybe a bit of pomp here is well-deserved.