In Valentine’s tight, intimate, and oddly charming upstairs, Lockett Pundt’s Lotus Plaza continued a night started by experimental locals Location Ensemble. Pundt—known particularly for his work as Lieutenant to Bradford Cox’s General in much-loved indie act Deerhunter—is currently touring behind his new Spooky Action at a Distance full-length, his second long-player under the Lotus Plaza moniker, and second album released via the venerable indie label Kranky.
Pundt and the rest of the members who constitute Lotus Plaza’s five-piece touring band walked through a set of songs immediately recognizable and even familiar to Deerhunter listeners. Blurring the lines between pop and noise, psychedelia and indie, Lotus Plaza’s live work—much like its on-record work—blurred into a congealed mass, stressing the act of listening as a whole, rather than plucking out individual highlights. The punchy pop structure of tracks like “Strangers” and “Out of Touch” played well against the walls of loose, repetitive sound that round them out, and operate as set-piece bridges between songs, adding to the “as a whole” quality Lotus Plaza do so well. Pundt tapped on pedals and warped his vocal and guitar tones into subtle swirls of sound, not unlike the sea green-hued smear visual that Spooky claims as its album art. Pundt’s introspective lyrics revolve heavily around love (he’s getting married this year) and melancholy, and his voice carries melodies that playfully toe the line between gentle and fragile. And while they’re rather nice lyrics and melodies, they were lost a bit in the otherwise decent mix.
Disappears, the night’s second act, built a set of music that highlighted their limited, but still well-executed, strengths. While Pundt curled off lyrics about loneliness or nostalgia, they were weighed down, compacted into the tight space. Disappears, though, charged through some floor-stomping punk-influenced jams and spent time shredding down solos. Cute, hip girls danced up front and leather-clad Cool Dads nodded along approvingly from the back. Both live at Valentine’s and on their most recent Kranky-released Pre Language, Disappears play straightforward rock that blends ’90s grunge, indie and punk. They’re not really hiding anything in their music: Big, brash vocal outbursts from frontman Brian Case are used sparingly, laid over Steve Shelley’s Sonic Youth-vintage drumming and Jonathan Van Herik’s riffs. Case spouts his words with aplomb, seemingly creating them only from his throat and lips, bypassing his tongue along the way, thus eliminating any and all pronunciation in his lyrical quips. His limited vocal range was kept in check, wisely, by simply belting and shouting and mouthing his way through his lyrical spasms.
The crowd loved the set, if for no other reason than the music made more sense in the setting; it was easier to figure out, easier to dance along with, and overall more enjoyable in that easiness. So while Lotus Plaza played better music—more interesting, nuanced, melodic, sure, take your pick—Disappears built a rather enjoyable set, albeit with a more limited toolkit, that played to their live surroundings.