Photo by John Vettese
Photo by Maureen Walsh
Experimental electronic fans got a beat-heavy workout (and a bit of ribbing) when Beak> made its Philadelphia debut at Underground Arts this weekend. Comprised of drummer Geoff Barrow (the multi-instrumentalist in Portishead), Billy Fuller of Fuzz Against Junk and Matt Williams of Team Brick, the band took the stage to a couple hundred fans who ventured out during the snow on Friday night. Barrow make cheeky remarks between songs about the crowd’s size and its chattiness – and to his point, some segments of folks in the room were kind of overly conversational – but when the trio launched into songs from their self-titled debut, it was focused and electrifying.
“Yatton” had a sinewy pulse, all nerves and wires and tension akin to krautrock forefathers Neu!. “Eggdog” was more of a midtempo mood piece, swelling and phasing in warm ambient synthesizer tones and mumbled echo-delay, while “Liar” had a 90s arty-eletro feel to it, akin to the way Orbital blended poppy synth patches with tonal dissonence. “Elevator” brought the psych-kraut vibes back up to the level of a Can-style freakout, at which point one dude watching from stage right was quite literally freaking out, jumping up and down, dancing and waving his arms at Williams. Maybe the crowd seemed small compared to whatever concert halls Beak> is used to playing back home in Bristol, but hopefully it was clear by night’s end how appreciative the bunch was. Check out scenes from the show in the photo gallery above.