OF MONTREAL + CHRISTINA SCHNEIDER’S JEPETO SOLUTIONS @ THE TERAGRAM BALLROOM
> Photos by Stephanie Port Words by Ron Garmon
The Teragram Ballroom was new to me, but rests in a long-familiar neighborhood just beginning to show signs of gentrification. I walked from The Last Bookstore for the full DTLA treatment, past jabbering bums, handholding couples, and second-rate hip-hop booming from speakers on side streets. A girl in front of me in line played it cool until the ticket-taker let her pass then let up a whoop and pogoed through the door.
The crowd was sparse for the opening act but anxious as hell. There were intermittent shrieks and bursts of applause before Christina Schneider’s Jepeto Solutions filed onstage. From its beginnings as a two-person act on OSR Tapes drawing the usual incomprehensible online reviews, CS JS branched into four-piece rock instrumentation with rousing live results. Their songs are oddball meditations on oppression, false consciousness, and daffodils done with a shambolic brio emphasizing staccato percussion, Schneider’s fierce precocity and Zach Phillips’ angular and roaring guitar figures. Between songs, the bassist began some diffident remarks that were quickly interrupted by a hollered “Freebird!,” which translated means “You’re talking too much, bro.” Their set ended long before the crowd wanted them off and so the response was vociferous.
The wait between acts outside among the smokers and tokers was enlivened by the chance meeting of a lady claiming she used to tell door staff at San Francisco venues like Bottom of the Hill she was press in order to get into shows for nothing. For one who endured no end of bleak runaround while reviewing for SF Weekly, I felt not even minimally tempted to wreak piece-of-my-mind vengeance, doing no worse than fading back inside, where the crowd had doubled in anticipation of the headliners.
House lights went up and stage lights down for of Montreal, whose dynamic mainman Kevin Barnes swaggered out resplendent in a 1960s orange pantsuit that would’ve looked as smashing on Ann-Margaret as it did on him. The resulting roar was deafening as Barnes, band, and assorted dancers and jongeleurs blitzed through an extended hyper-melodic footstomping vaudeville turn that had this crowd jumping and singing and making out to tunes from their latest EP Rune Husk. Young fans squealed without shame as some song of extra-heavy personal import flashed by. You can take whatever cavils about today’s ultra-advanced, emotionally arid pop aesthetic and do the Hustle with ‘em, my friend – this was about as experimental as ABBA. And worked every bit as well, all the way up to the rainbow-festooned encore, after which the audience charged the door like they were all headed to the same afterparty.