Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Intelligence (#1): Vintage Intelligence.

The Ramones beginning songs with a count-off of “One, Two, Three, Four!” was charming and stupidly sophisticated.

But it takes real intelligence to utter over a cheesy mechanized beat accompanied by bass and guitar, “I need a haircut and a head on a spear/Nothing's important when the morning is near” before beginning to monotonously intone: “One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 40, 41, 42, 43, 44—ladies and gentlemen, the band.” Bringing it all musically together—real drums, keyboard, bass, guitar—for the rest of the track “I Love La” (from the highly-recommended Everybody's Got It Easy But Me).

The brains behind the The Intelligence, Lars Finberg, called the musical set depicted in these photos the band's "worst show of all time.” The bass player had quit just before the tour started in Denver, forcing the band's keyboardist to play only bass parts at Finberg's dispirited pre-show request. But I was charmed by the minimalism that accentuated Finberg's guitar and vocals. Quirky, sly, post-punk pop. I went to the Hi-Dive in Denver to see the headliner, but left with opening act The Intelligence percolating throughout my gray matter.

The Intelligence recently opened for FFS (the Sparks/Frans Ferdinand collaboration). A full band boosted the sound of Finberg's songs. Finberg stood deadpan, playing guitar and singing songs from his latest release Vintage Future. Angular, sometimes surf-sounding guitar lines. Sometimes a song will take the road-less-traveled from where the Cars rode into town. Compositions about love and deviousness. Cinematic in certain regards, the soundscapes might be tagged “Lynchian”—if they weren't actually more “Finbergian.” And then, at the end of the set, Finberg literally stretched-out, unexpectedly and acrobatically, slapping his foot onto his keyboard while simultaneously leaning over and placing his guitar's headstock against his amp, generating feedback and keyboard blurt.

The Intelligence: at its best, just brilliant.

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