Algiers is huge and you don’t even know it yet. The band may have played to a half-full Triple Rock on Tuesday night, but they sounded enormous and incredibly of-the-moment. Their sound is a roaring doom-dance electronica, layered on with frontman Franklin James Fisher’s gospel-inflected preacher-man cries and guitarist Lee Tesche in a distorted overdrive. Bass and synth player Ryan Mahan started the show beating his hand to his chest with a look of wild-eyed defiance, and that energy was palpable throughout the set, even as he was running through eminently catchy, bouncing basslines that cut through the feedback and fuzz.
Algiers put on a show which rarely let up in energy and featured really no stage banter (“We are Algiers, we’re from Atlanta.”) but played most of their just-released self titled debut, with some added jams, samples and flourishes. The album opener “Remains,” which came in the middle of the set, started off with a double foot stomp and a sharp clap, reminiscent of chain-gang work songs, and drove the point of disaffection home with Fisher extolling, “We’re you’re careless mistakes / We’re the spirits you’ve raised / We are what remains.”
For “Games” frontman Fisher took the slow, sparse tune solo, jamming out an occasional chord on his Fender and sounding like a sorrow-filled bluesman as he wailed out “We bury ourselves in our bottles / We bury ourselves in our bibles / And then you come around singing my house is burning / Why do you come around?” And although the lyrics cut deep and the tone of the show was full of foreboding and anger, “Games” also had the lightest moment of the night when, in the midst of pregnant silence, someone sneezed and Fisher couldn’t help but laugh and bless them.
Pick up the debut record, and put it in rotation alongside D’Angelo’s Black Messiah and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. That’s the soundtrack of what’s happening in America right now – the tensions of race, disinvestment, anger and power, as told through creative, genre-bending, expansive music. As was intoned in a sample last night, “They care about the black creative genius, but they don’t care about the misery that created that genius.” It’s not easy music, but it is powerful, driven and deeply human. Get it, get into it, and get to the next Algiers show you can.
Irony. Utility. Pretext.
And When You Fall
But She Was Not Flying