CONCERT REVIEW - Q and Not U - Wu Hu!
Last week, Kevin and I made our way out to the Knitting Factory in Tribeca to check out the band Q and not U on their final tour before their announced breakup. Apparently, they have been unable to withstand the incessant media attention that has come with earning a 7.5 on Pitchfork, and I don't blame them; in the indie community, once your record sales hit that sixth figure (known as "going denim") there are fewer people around who can be berated for not having heard of you and thus, your hipster value dries up. This is no reflection on Q and not U's three increasingly pleasant albums, the most recent coming in 2004, and certainly not on their live performances, which Kevin and I were delighted to find are even more be-U-tiful than their records.
The opening band, Super System, was a synth trio in the vein of The Rapture in which every song vaguely resembled The Rapture. That's probably just out of a process of elimination, because only about five synth songs have ever been recorded and they weren't playing "I Just Can't Get Enough" or anything by Kraftwerk named after a somewhat modern appliance. They were an extremely dance-friendly band, but the crowd was in no mood to dance, save the obligatory "I'm hot enough to get away with it" girls sprinkled throughout the pack. I enjoyed Super System, particularly their last couple songs in which the singer on the right kept going wild and screaming his lyrics while his bandmates just sang regularly, leaving us to wonder what the song was about and why it pissed off the guy on the right so much. Turns out, he was ok, and they left the stage to comfortable applause.
Q and Not U came on shortly after for their second show of that evening. The band consisted of two front men and one drummer. The guy on the left, I assume, was Q. I'm not sure what the guy on the right's name was, but I do know what it wasn't. They sprinted right into their first two songs with a pace that was part "let's dance" and part "high schoolers go crazy and mosh," and I'll be damned if the crowd didn't choose the latter. I can't relay all the details of the set, for I kept having people thrown into me while I was trying to nerdily compile info for this review on my adding machine (I was wearing one of those green accountant visors too.) The highlight song, other than their opening one-two punch sturdy enough to knock out Don Flamenco, was their rendition of the second track off "No Kill No Beep Beep" preceded by a synthesizer ditty that closely resembled "Bad to the Bone." The song itself, however, was good to the bone.
My favorite part of the evening was when a twentysomething hipster in a hunting cap and flannel button-down shirt leaped into the middle of an erupting fray and the song ended seconds later, leaving him standing there looking to fight, and he sort of just collected himself and sheepishly returned to the back of the crowd. Part of me wanted to rush outside, purchase a turntable, and run back in just in time to pull the record off the needle in order to hammer his awkwardness home, but I'll leave that for when they make a movie out of this situation. The band wasn't overly theatrical; whereas Iggy Pop may have smeared himself with peanut butter and rolled around on broken glass, most indie bands' idea of a dangerous stunt is setting a water bottle on top of an expensive synthesizer...WHICH THEY DID! Actually, they were quite interactive with the crowd. When someone yelled "what will it take for you to not break up?" the singer responded, "I don't know, a time machine? Maybe if we'd all been born earlier? That's about it." Take that, loyal concert-attending fan!
I won't be broken up when the band members go off on their separate ways, but I won't be happy either. Q is planning to form a tribute band to the Star Trek character of the same name, and his first single "Surprised to See Me, Picard?" should hit the FM airwaves by December. The other singer is starting a band called, simply "Not U," where the band's only gimmick is that whoever is onstage is not you. His album "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTVWXYZ" should be in stores by February '06. Yeah, the breakup will be hard on all of us, but at least we can take solace in the fact that Q and Not U was on the record label "Dischord," giving this whole situation the aroma of delicious irony that the indie-rock community tresures so deeply.