An evening with The Blow is an experience. To call Tuesday night’s performance in Atlanta by Khaela Maricich and bandmate/sound designer Melissa Dyne a concert would be misleading. It was part concert – if only out of necessity – and part conceptual art piece, part stand-up comedy act, part coruscating light display and part abstract vent session with a hint of aerobic instruction tossed in for why-the-hell-not.
The group, which released its first album this year after a six-year hiatus, performed at East Atlanta’s The Earl on election night and it was certainly something. The set began with Maricich seemingly warming up her vocal chords for approximately three minutes before launching into the first song. That was followed by what had to be the most intentionally spastic white girl dance performance East Atlanta had seen in at least the last 12 hours.
Then there was a one-way conversation with the audience about where, in space, the album could have been released (“Could we have released it on this stage? That would have been awkward, just having the album released here on the stage. Other bands are trying to play and we’ve just got our album here”); a stage dive that failed, but was revived and executed to perfection; a fog machine; Maricich staring at her shadow; Maricich whipping her hair back and forth with her back to the audience; a conversation with Dyne in which Dyne never responded and so much more. It sounds terrible, but it all somehow seemed appropriate and was somehow very entertaining.
On the musical side, it was strange to see an act with so much material to pull from, perform so few songs. Their entire 90 minute set consisted of the whole of their 10-track eponymous 2013 album along with the obligatory “True Affection” and “Come on Petunia.” A request from the audience for the song “Parentheses” was met with a death metal a capella rendition of the first verse and chorus. After that, the requests from the audience of no more than 75 people stopped.
There was no “Fists Up,” “Hey Boy” or “Pile of Gold” or really any acknowledgement of the group’s “Paper Televisions” or “Poor Aim: Love Songs” albums, perhaps in a nod to Dyne’s presence or lack thereof on either (she joined the group in 2007, after Maricich had worked with Jona Bechtot from 2004-2007, or so says Wikipedia).
“Sometimes you grow and change as people,” Maricich said after her gruff version of “Parentheses.”
The group finished the evening with a performance of “From the Future,” a song that had played earlier while Marecich danced without singing a word and contorted her visage into an assortment of strange faces that may have expressed the feelings of the song and may have just been designed to freak members of the audience out a little. Maybe both.
After the song, she whisked herself offstage and ran directly to the water cooler at the back of the venue. The lights went up and the pre-recorded music came back on almost immediately, leaving no time for fans to demand an encore. Though they tried.
This was a show by The Blow. It was an experience.
(Photo: The Blow’s Khaela Maricich. By Jay Gold)