Zombie was the watchword for day three of Matador 21, at least for those who had anything left in the tank at all...
Kicking off the day was a matinee of bands in the ballroom during the afternoon. While lesser in name power than many of their colleagues of the weekend, the matinee bands used the smaller setting to their benefit, delivering sets that matched, and in some cases exceeded their peers.
Kurt Vile started it off, his droning rhythms sucking in the crowd, and by sets end, he seemed to have them pretty well in hand. Looking forward to his next album...if the set was any indication, he continues to grow.
Times New Viking hit it next, delivering a blistering 19 songs in just over half an hour. The Ohio trio made nods to Yo La Tengo and Guided By Voices (the evening's headliners), but their sound was undoubtedly their own.
The Clean, (from New Zealand), put an exclamation point on the matinee, delivering their brand of surf informed noisy goodness, joined at one point by Ira & Georgia from Yo La Tengo for a tune. (Hamish Kilgour would appear in their set later in the evening.)
The Clean pinned me to the wall, and forced dinner break considerations to override Shearwater, whom I'd quite been looking forward to seeing. File under 'future considerations'. Also wiped out a chunk of Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, but having just seen him in March made it a little more bearable.
Did hit the floor fully recharged, and in time for Ted's last few tunes, including a dandy Matador tribute, a cover of Nick Lowe's 'I Love My Label', done with Leo's customary gusto & zeal.
New Pornographers held court with a full contingent, including Neko Case, sitting in on this most special occasion. They played an engaging set, song after song reminding me of the sheer depth of their catalogue.
Maybe the biggest question mark of the weekend was the block penciled in for Liz Phair, and all the question marks that entailed. Liz bounced out in good form, accompanied by a guitarist on 'Supernova' from the LP Whipsmart, and it was off to the races...
She cited her legendary stage fright, (remembering the Roseland showcase in NYC that was actually at Irving Plaza, but close enough), and proceeded to rip through a handful songs from her first two records, culminating with an appearance by the now ubiquitous Ted Leo, for a duet on 'Fuck and Run'.
Yo La Tengo opened with a hushed version of 'Our Way To Fall', bringing an unimaginable silence to the theater.
They proceeded to pull every trick out of their bag, from the noise epic, 'The Story Of Yo La Tengo', to their pseudo-Supremes choreography on 'You Can Have It All', to
reworking their cover of Sun Ra's 'No Nuclear War' into a lengthy tribute to Matador, that might have ended up naming every person who ever worked there.
Luminescent version of "Autumn Sweater" (above).
Odd note: a person, (who was later identified as Guided By Voices Mitch Mitchell), dashed across the stage during YLT's set, jumped in the audience, then dashed back and was threatened by security. Hamish Kilgour, (The Clean), later returned the gift by dashing across the stage during the GBV set, high-fiving the band, and diving into the crowd.
Of the four times I've seen them this year, that was the one.It was breathtaking in its streamlined potency. Whether it was the slot before Guided By Voices, or merely the challenge of a big stage, Yo La Tengo rose to the occasion.
That really seemed to be the theme of the weekend, rising to the occasion, and Guided By Voices did not let down the diehards, who had seemingly been drinking all day to prepare for the occasion. This was one set that needed to be witnessed from the floor, and i abandoned my cozy balcony for the free for all. From the time the neon sign pronouncing 'The Club Is Open', lit and descended, it was on. GBV stayed true to their older catalogue, and Mr Pollard was in fine form, managing to fulfill his quota of cigarettes, alchohol, and high kicks during the proceedings, stopping to observe at one point, "We Won!"
And he was spot on...The prospect of seeing many of the bands this weekend at this point in time was farfetched, and seeing them in Vegas, of all places? Too much for the brain to ponder.
The final word on the blowout would be community. There is just no way to state the impact of being among so many like minded souls for a whole crazy weekend. At most festivals, one feels like a spectator, but this felt like family.