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Blonde Redhead deliver a poignant performance at The Regency Ballroom

Blonde RedheadPhotos by Karen Goldman // Written by Omar Amador //

Blonde Redhead with Porcelain Raft //
The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco
July 22nd, 2017 //

The last time Blonde Redhead came to the Bay Area, they introduced us to Canandian indie rockers Wintersleep. On this night, they gifted us with Porcelain Raft, a New York-based solo artist armed only with a Fender Telecaster and a set of samplers.

Mauro Remiddi’s staccato-rich voice floated along to the rhythm of his samplers, setting the mood for the night. The Italian singer-songwriter’s compositions were a mix of pre-recorded, downtempo bass and percussions, a clean guitar sound and his vocals with reverb.

Porcelain Raft’s performance paired perfectly with The Regency Ballroom’s dim lights and turn-of-the-century architecture, though his music can pair well with just about anything. Many live music fans often choose to skip an opener, but with Blonde Redhead billed as a headliner, one can expect to be introduced to something profound — and Porcelain Raft is definitely one you’ll want to keep an eye on down the road.

Despite being around for more than 20 years, Blonde Redhead is anything but stagnant. Their sound encompasses a wide range of styles that draw on various emotions: somberness, anger and euphoria. It is no wonder that the band continues to draw a major and diverse following, ranging from “scenesters” who hem their own clothing to frat-boy types with cargo shorts and tilted baseball caps.

Blonde Redhead

The trio composed of Kazu Makino and brothers Amadeo and Simone Pace began in the early 90’s and has released nine studio albums, each with a unique sound and narrative. All three musicians are fluid in their compositions, with Makino and Amadeo Pace switching between guitars, synthesizers and vocals throughout their live performance. Blonde Redhead are also relentless in their art as just last year, they visited SF and were already back this summer on a Saturday night to introduce their brand-new EP 3 O’Clock.

Blonde Redhead kicked things off with “Equally Damaged”, the subtle, yet powerful vorspiel to their 2000 LP Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. Although it was less than a minute, the quant organ loop was at first melancholic before it spiraled into the playful “In Particular”.

The group played much of its crowd-pleasing songs from Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, with a few tracks from 2014’s Barragán, 2007’s 23 and 2004’s Misery Is a Butterfly. Makino and the two Pace brothers barely interacted with the audience, but instead focused on playing one song after the next.

The highlight of the night was the memorable performance of “For the Damaged”. Makino sat at the edge of the stage and serenaded the audience with the beautifully somber song. Had it not been for the onslaught of camera phones that were recording the moment, it would have been a powerfully emotional experience. Unfortunately, I was interrupted by two tall, girthy men in front of me that thought it was necessary to hold up their phones, though I did find some humor in overhearing someone contemplating whether to confront the men, only to stop themselves with, “Fuck, it’s so fucking beautiful,” before pulling out a phone, too.

Setlist:
Equally Damaged
In Particular
Melody of Certain Three
Hated Because of Great Qualities
Loved Despite of Great Faults
Ballad of Lemons
This Is Not
For the Damaged
Mother
Where Your Mind Wants to Go
Doll Is Mine
Elephant Woman
Dripping

Encore:
3 O’Clock
Give Give
23

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