What is it about Baltimore that turns out so many consistently good bands, none of whom sound anything like each other? Animal Collective, Beach House, Dan Deacon, Wye Oak, Future Islands, etc., and we can add Lower Dens to this illustrious list.
Young Ejecta opened. Young Ejecta, formerly just "Ejecta," was the duo of singer Leanne Macomber, formerly of Neon Indian, and producer Joel Ford of Ford & Lopatin, but last night she performed as a solo act, singing over pre-recorded music, which I generally find disappointing (we came to see a band, not watch karaoke). She occasionally added some touches of synthesized percussion and electronic distortion, but she primarily just sang and danced/posed in some rather odd and quirky ways.
Macomber has posed nude on Ejecta’s single and album covers, and she performs nude in several of Ejecta’s vidoes (you can Google them yourself - I'm not posting them here because everyone will think that I did due to prurience and not artistry). She performed fully clothed last night (despite the heat) and with her pop approach to singing, electronic instrumentation, and waif-like presence, she reminded this listener at times of Grimes. Even though I'm not a fan of singing to pre-recorded music, she still won me over and it seemed that most of the audience enjoyed her set, too.
We've seen headliner Lower Dens at The Earl once before, with Montreal's psych-noise quartet No Joy opening and the comedy stylings of Alan Resnick. Since then, Jana Hunter and company have followed up their previous fine albums Twin Hand Movement and Nootropics with yet another great record, Escape From Evil. Back in 2012, frontwoman Jana Hunter performed primarily behind a keyboard while also singing and playing guitar, but last night the keyboard was gone and Hunter was on guitar behind her mic stand or just prowled the stage with microphone in hand. She's also cut her hair, which wasn't very long to begin with before, down to a close-cropped buzz cut. That's Hunter in the park reading The Power of Habit and appearing in various other scenes in the video for To Die In L.A.
Lower Dens ended their set with a great rendition of Nootropics' Brains, followed by an earnest cover of Hall & Oates Maneater. "We don't do encores anymore," Jana had warned us earlier, "we just play longer sets," which was fine with everybody as we all shuffled out after their long and satisfying set.