Live Review: Film School at Bottom of the Hill
As Eulogies, the opening band for the night, was gearing up to play, the floor was already full at Bottom of the Hill. With a small slide projector sending blurry retro photographs on the kick drum and the gravely and bluesy sound of Peter Walker, the feel of the evening was already set for a sweet night of music. As the name would suggest, Eulogies’ set was made up of stories set to song, with Walker crooning to the audience “Should I say goodbye to you, should I stick around?” while the bassist, Tim Hutton, happily (with an amount of energy that almost seemed too much in comparison to Walker’s easy groove) harmonized on every chorus. With an overall tight sound, though lacking a little in spunk, the evening was off to a pretty good start.
While Eulogies may have been a little mellow, The Morning Benders more than made up for it with their boundless energy and surfer-style beats. In an old-man sweater and looking vaguely like a member of The Brady Bunch, singer Chris Chu worked up the crowd and had them singing “Yeah, yeah, yeah” along with him within the first few songs. Even when he held up the show for a minute to take off his sweater, no one seemed to really mind; especially after his endearing “One more second, I must remove my cardigan… I just wanted to say cardigan,” comment. Even after their set was over, Chu couldn’t be stopped, and pranced throughout the audience like Pan with a set of pipes for the remainder of the show.
After a brief interlude supplied by the lovely DJ’s of SOMA FM, Film School began. Even before the entire band had crossed the stage, their wall of sound preceded them, already mesmerizing the audience. As singer Greg Bertens softly repeated, “I can’t believe the things that you say,” over and over during the opening song “Compare,” from their recent release Hideout, the audience was wide-eyed and entranced, bobbing their heads in time to the music. As the song ended and the opening guitar riff of “Lectric,” began, the crowd cheered in recognition, a little dazed but shaken from their reverie.
Watching Film School, it’s easy to see why this music is called shoegaze. The band members were truly in their own world as they played; Lorelei Plotczyk, the bassist, not surprisingly, stared at her shoes with a half smile; Bertens spasmodically bobbed up and down while Dave Dupuis swayed back and forth with his guitar; all while Jason Ruck continued adding layer after layer of samples and noise.
The dims lights and the soft voices of Bertens and Plotcyzk added to the surrealistic quality of the set on “Sick Hipster Nursed by Suicide Girl.” Similarly to the album, it’s impossible to understand most of the words as the vocals softly blend into the soundscape, only surfacing with the refrain, “She’s always by his side.” The sound is so all encompassing it almost feels like being covered in gauze. By the time they played “11:11,” an older track, it felt a little like going mad. With echoing vocals and unrelenting beats, Bertens softly questioned something like, “Don’t you know you said you never survived?” And you don’t know if you did. But if this is madness, it feels pretty good.
- Review submitted by Grace Blasco.