Dirty Projectors member Nat Baldwin, looking a bit like a younger Hugh Dancy, opened the show effortlessly playing the hell out of the upright bass. Having previously worked with Grizzly Bear and Vampire Weekend, Baldwin was the perfect choice to kick off the night and lead us into a mesmerizing performance art presentation by Brianna Olson. As Olson stayed back in the shadows, prominently featured was Michael Pope, award-winning underground filmmaker and multi-media artist (you may recognize them from his long history of video directing and her producing with Amanda Palmer/The Dresden Dolls), bedecked in all white make-up and apparel, save the blood-red flower in his mouth. I don’t think I blinked once, for fear of missing one bit of artistic perfection.
Gem Club – Christopher Barnes, Kristen Drymala, and Ieva Berberian – took the stage to the eager applause of a full house. The trio played In Roses in its entirety, only taking a brief moment to tell a short story then thank everyone for coming. With the entire set accompanied by eagle-eyed projections of bold, beautiful tiger lilies (my personal favorite), roses, crystal-clear melting ice, sweeping plumes of smoke, and prismatic hues across a large screen, combined with the unique venue, it made for one of the most unique CD release events I’ve encountered. Perhaps my favorite backdrop motif of the night – two glitter-sodden hands aglow, grasping, reaching, yearning – occurred during their final song, “Polly” – the undulation of ghostly and divinely delectable music wrapping the evening up befittingly. The band is a refreshing break from all of the unnervingly cliche and similar-sounding artists you encounter on every corner and radio station – Gem Club is truly a diamond in the rough (pun kind of intended). Eleven delectable, heart-wrenching, ethereal songs later, the projections faded out and the house lights came up, encouraging us to be on our way, with those beautiful strokes of color filling our heads and hearts. I left feeling sanguine and overflowing with inspiration; Gem Club’s music will get under your skin, pull at your heartstrings, and send you off into the world anew – an atypical experience one mustn’t miss out on.
Check out more of my photos from the Gem Club CD release event: