A cold Saturday night in February, and I’d turned the corner onto Ludlow. Once past the black clad, gorilla doormen insisting they’d reached capacity and a fickle crowd of pre-gaming college types, I made it to the showroom in time to catch the end of The Textiles’s set. A three-piece band comprised of guitar/vox, drums, and synth keyboard, they had a responsive crowd swaying and bobbing to their blend of electro-alt-rock. What makes their sound convincing is their lack of a formal bassist. The synthesizer takes up the job of filling out the rhythm section with the drums while overlaying ambient feedback, distortion, and melodies. Unlike other standard rock outfits that add a synth where a second guitar would do just as well, with The Textiles the synth never sounds superfluous.
The vocals and the guitar have a complementary relationship to the rhythm section. The vocals are a standard baritone that hints at the likes of Joy Division and Depeche Mode, while the guitar is bassy and saturated with a distortion that is never overpowering or piercing in an attempt to demand your attention. Overall the effect is that of a warm, vibrating hum lilts and borders on danceable.
Headlining the show was Thelvanguage, which I believe is still pronounced “The Language.” The first song sounded like the soundtrack to a 70’s era porno or blacksploitation film, courtesy of the scratch-picked guitar and wah pedal effect. Now maybe it would be fairer to say, “like every signature funk and soul jam of that era,” but something about the playful nature and moustache on the band leader, who was a that moment on guitar, made me believe the former description is valid.
After the first track, he quickly jumped behind the keyboard and remained there for the duration of their set.
Much of it felt like an extended jam session. Many of their songs had little to no words. Clearly everybody in the band knew their instruments well enough to vamp on whichever key the audience suggested. The front man behind the keys rarely stayed quiet, even on instrumentals, coaxing the audience to move.
On songs where he did sing, his voice was lithe and clean. It didn’t have the robustness necessary to fill the room, which isn’t to say it didn’t have presence. It sounded like he was perpetually smiling as he sang and that was probably because he was. His exuberance and the band’s energy were contagious. The crowd danced contentedly through out the entire set, which included an extra 5 minutes because the sound guys enjoyed them so much.
Text by Mario Norena
Visuals by Mart Kawaii