Your Tanlines are Showing

I love music, and even more so, going to shows. I arrived a little late to the party, though, having spent about four years living in New York without doing enough to explore new artists and check out shows (except for what seems like more Ted Leo and the Pharmacists shows than is reasonable for one person to attend). This is made sadder by the fact that I lived in Brooklyn, the epicenter of American indie music. Hyperbole? Maybe. But it’s true. So much music was being made right under my nose and I didn’t seize the opportunity to soak much of it in. In fact, thinking about all the great shows I must have missed while living there still makes me wince. (Brushing off a chance to see Arcade Fire play in a church sanctuary on the Lower East Side comes to mind. “Arcade What?” I’d said at the time.)

That’s not to say that there was none of it going on. I bopped around with sweaty hipsters in a dark basement as the Shout Out Louds choked out lines from “Howl Howl Gaff Gaff” a few feet away. I swilled PBR with The Picture at a loft party in Dumbo. I stuffed myself, embarrassed by the Midtown-office outfit I was still wearing, into general admission space with hundreds of shoe-gazing Manhattan high schoolers to sway and sulk at the feet of Death Cab for Cutie and Stars. I suffered through a few Robyn Hitchcock shows at Southpaw, and I raced to see the Fiery Furnaces sing in the back of a book store in Williamsburg when I heard they were there. Still, if I could turn back time, I would have made a better effort.

Happily, all is not lost. Over the past two years, since taking up with a certain someone who shares my love of music, I’ve made up a lot of ground. We’ve watched Givers rock Middle East, been hypnotized by Beach House at the Wilbur, and caught a surprisingly dynamite performance by Miike Snow at House of Blues. It doesn’t hurt that we live a stone’s throw from Paradise Rock Club, a place that’s firmly affixed in my Official Register of Happy Places. (It’s like this: If you live in New York and you love art, you probably love making trips to the Met. If you live in Philly and you love cheesesteak, you probably consume a lot of  Pat’s. And if you live in Boston and dig indie music, you probably log a lot of hours at the ‘Dise.) There, I had what I imagine a religious experience would be like while seeing the Antlers. Then came Cults and Washed Out. Both were incredible. Our most recent outing to the ‘Dise was for a long-anticipated show by the guys who inspired this post: Tanlines.

Tanlines are a Brooklyn-based electronic-pop duo, formed in 2008, who produce a whole lot of sound with a pretty small setup that comprises a guitar, drums, a keyboard, and some electronic equipment. On stage, they’re charming; Jesse Cohen, who mans the jumble of equipment and sings backup, hams it up at every opportunity, while the ostensibly bashful singer/guitarist Eric Emm offers absolutely no banter with the audience. Despite, or perhaps because of, a pretty serious fumble that caused the pair to start one song over again, my heart swelled with adoration for these guys, who seem to be on the verge of a big break. It was like watching an older brother and his best friend on stage, praying they’d get through their set problem-free. And even when things got shaky, I couldn’t help but love them because they’re such good guys. Good guys who happen to make awesome music.

photo (1)

The marquis sighting never gets old.

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Emm, setting up his own equipment.

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A couple days after we saw them at Paradise, Tanlines made their late-night TV debut on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” They played “All of Me,” from their album Mixed Emotions. You can watch here, via Daily Motion (try as I might, I can’t embed the video here. Sorry.).

And here’s the video for my favorite Tanlines track, “Not the Same”:

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