clap clap blog: we have moved

Monday, November 01, 2004
Went to see the Furnaces last night in the Hoboken. Pretty much the same set as the other shows on this tour, but because it was a) the last show and b) according to them, not a very good show, they did an old-skool Matt & Eleanor quiet-songs 2nd encore: "Evergreen" with Matt on Rhodes (after both playing it in the regular set, and trying it briefly on solo guitar before scrapping that), "We Got Back the Plague" the way they'd been doing it in later shows on the last tour with Matt playing keyboards and singing the verses and Eleanor taking the choruses, and "Rub Alcohol Blues" like it usually is with Matt on guitar and Eleanor singing.

"Plague" was especially good because they hadn't played it in a while and it had only slowly dawned on me that it's an anti-Bush song. They did a brief intro, which as Eleanor said wasn't something they ever did, basically saying "go vote," and all of a sudden the tagline of the chorus--"Early November we got back the plague"--actually made sense. It's really a wonderful song, an absolute mastery of political songwriting, because it blends in perfectly with everything else on Gallowsbird's, and so it sort of just slides by you as a song with a good melody and a good hook, but then you listen to it more and more and the seemingly-obscure or purely referential lyrics are actually very specific and i.e. about Bush. Would that more anti-Bush songs were even half as good, and as subtle, as that.

It was interesting that although this is the last stop on the Blueberry Boat tour, and the buzz on the band has been, if anything, building more and more as time goes on, people were no more into the hardcore medley that leads off the set than they were at the Bowery show. It struck me this time that it's sort of a slow emergence of melody over the course of the show, but at the same time Matthew and I both agree that it's time for something else, probably.

We were right up front, and as the Maxwell's stage is short, I was able to get a look at the equipment setup. Matthew was playing a Rhodes with a Roland Juno 60 on top, both going direct into what was probably a Roland cube amp. He didn't seem to mess with the settings on the Juno at all aside from occasionally turning up the LFO. The guitar setup was a Telecaster into a small-label Fuzztone pedal of some sort, a Boss Bass Synth pedal, and a Whammy pedal that he switched between a wah function and an octave pitch-shift. The Whammy pedal I'd suspected on the basis of a radio session I heard where Matt seemed to have the octave pitch shift on the entire time (to, er, somewhat annoying effect), but the bass synth pedal was very interesting to see in action--there were times when Matt was using it and Tosh wasn't playing anything at all, so that particular synth sound is actually guitar-based. Tosh was playing what I'm blindly guessing is a Moog or some other bulky, short-keyboard analoge synth. The bass was run through a tuner and a Moogerfooger ring mod with expression pedal that he used to make various cool noises.