About a month ago, I asked if the Phoenix would like me to write a blog review of a presentation by 2:54 that took place Wednesday night at T.T. the Bear’s. Had anyone known at the time that the PHX's Best Music Poll Awards would be slated for the same evening, I would not have made this offer. But I fulfilled my original obligation and duty because I am either an uncannily responsible person, or the most responsible person of all time.
This decision also guaranteed I’d be grouchy all night, which was probably the real reason I dug Brooklyn's WIDOWSPEAK more when they played the Paradise about four months ago, even though their scenic but maybe-sort-of-listless indie sounded crisper coming through T.T.’s sound system. Molly Hamilton’s spectral coos inarguably evoke, and I definitely started feeling them more when the tempo picked up and the lead guitarist ditched sparseness for angularity. But I wonder if part of the reason Widowspeak keep getting tapped to open for relatively big-ticket indies like Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls is they present no danger whatsoever of alienating almost any audience or upstaging any other band. Nonetheless, the guy who yelled “Turn up the vocals!” right before their last song is a douche.
Londonian dispensers of frosty shoegaze and magnets for PJ Harvey comparisons, 2:54 are Hannah and Colette Thurlow and two dudes they've got playing utilitarian bass and drums. They are an outstandingly cool idea for a band. Having a cool idea, or being a cool idea, is half the battle. I’ve spent about an hour on the web trying to figure out which of the Thurlow sisters plays lead guitar and which one sings and mostly plays rhythm. For some reason, I can't find that really clarified in their bio on Fat Possum's website (that's their label), or in anything written about them elsewhere. So I must fall back on their haircuts as my only means of identifying 2:54 with sure-fire accuracy. The sister sporting an orderly brunette cut with mild emo swoopage played mercurial leads that do not “haunt” so much as “infect.” She also maintains this weird posture I’ve seen other guitar players in post-punk bands do; Legs pressed together, brusquely swaying forwards and backwards, tapping the floor with her ankle (but never her toe), and occasionally making a little flippy motion with her strumming hand’s wrist. I assume those people are aping a guitarist from an ‘80s band who I am not familiar with.
Though shadowy, effects pedal heavy music like this often invites a “wall of sound” cliché, 2:54’s wave never broke. The glass never shattered (though it cracked, twice). They never quite, shall we say, arrived at their place to bury strangers. That’s okay, I guess. Not everything has to be epic... does it?