October 22, 2008
|Photos by Francis Chung|
Cut Off Your Hands [The Delancey; 8 p.m.]
New Zealand has 4.2 million people, spread out across two islands and 103,738 square miles. Manhattan has 1.6 million people, spread out across one island of fewer than 23 square miles. During the New Zealand Showcase last night, the Delancey definitely felt like Manhattan. Not only was the small venue sweatily over capacity for Cut Off Your Hands , but the Auckland four-piece played propulsive, new-wavey guitar-pop, with lead vocalist Nick Johnson's voice occasionally taking on some downtown Julian Casablancas gritty elegance. The rhythm section did a lot of the work, anchoring the songs with funky Orange Juice basslines, so when the kick drum broke ahead of "It Doesn't Matter", from the band's 2008 debut You and I , well, it mattered. Cut Off Your Hands, who also played the New Zealand Showcase at the Delancey last year, managed to get the problem fixed pretty quickly, in the meantime keeping the crowd at bay with ringing guitar arpeggios and tambourine.
The Ruby Suns [The Delancey; 8:30 p.m.]
The contrast between New Zealand and New York made itself more apparent for the Ruby Suns . A dank, crowded Lower East Side rock club was a long way from the sunny, pan-global psych pop of this year's Sea Lion , the Ruby Suns' sophomore album and first for Sub Pop. It seems head Sun Ryan McPhun has pared his live band down to a duo, with McPhun and his bandmate Amee Robinson passing around guitars and sharing in drumming duties. Much of the time, though, McPhun was huddled over his electronics, helping conjure the thick, tropical layers of instrumentation of songs like "Tane Mahuta". These ephemeral song clouds have plenty of details to examine in headphones, and they're a relaxing enough escape wafting across an apartment on a summer night, but last night they didn't quite translate to a rock-performance setting.