It was kind of a long shot to bet on the Caribou/F**k Buttons pairing to be a sell-out for Nashville’s Mercy Lounge, seeing as the Canadian electro-sage Dan Snaith has never had a Grey’s Anatomy spotlight and the Bristol, England, duo only recently released their debut Street Horrrsing.It was kind of a long shot to bet on the Caribou/F**k Buttons pairing to be a sell-out for Nashville’s Mercy Lounge, seeing as the Canadian electro-sage Dan Snaith has never had a Grey’s Anatomy spotlight and the Bristol, England, duo only recently released their debut Street Horrrsing. That said, it was reassuring to see the upstairs den at least half-packed with bearded, bobbing heads crowding the stage by the time the F**k Buttons appeared. Dubbed the noise band fit for indie consumption, the Buttons’ delivered a spot-on performance that, for two guys gently tapping on mini Casios and tweaking their Macbooks, had at least this skeptic grinning against the wall of noise. As many budding acts are wont to do, their set followed closely the LP’s guidelines, embellishing mostly in length and sheer decibel ferocity. Gaining speed and density with the trickling beauty of “Sweet Love for Planet Earth,” Benjamin John Power could be seen nearly deepthroating a toy microphone connected to what appeared to be a modified Playskool cassette player, belching syllables into a manic yell. The follow-up, “Ribs Out,” had Andrew Hung fire dancing in the audience to a tribal beat, surging from a few bird chirps into a full-on guttural yelp.
By the time headliners Caribou took stage, the bar had been set high and, sadly, Snaith and Co. took an unnecessary dip for the worst. Whereas the band’s ‘07 masterpiece Andorra was a fragile and rapturous work, blistering with synth accents and Snaith’s cherubic vocals, the set put a misplaced emphasis on spastic percussive freak-outs and hair-blowing bass. When “Melody Day,” easily one of last year’s better songs, should have marked a high point for the night, the noise level nearly canceled out any discernible vocals or keyboard inflections, leaving little more than a drum corp feud between Snaith and the band’s touring replacement drummer. At times, that served its purpose, such as an impromptu crowd shout-out of “Bees” from their ‘05 record The Milk of Human Kindness that resulted in one of their better songs, and a more balanced “Sandy” that wasn’t completely drenched in snare chops and cymbal splashes. Given that it’s been six months since Andorra hit the streets and subsequently landed on numerous best-of lists, it’s possible that Snaith was merely testing the waters for new material. If so, it’s going to be a hell of an aggressive record; from the cheap seats, though, walking away from a show with little more to remember them by than ringing ears doesn’t bode well.