Shellac and Helen Money performed @ Union Transfer 9/30/11.
Helen Money began the night around 8:30. On stage Helen Money, aka Allison, played a cello that is almost bigger than her. There was also some electronic equipment that she used to create distortion effects and various rhythms- on her own or using the drum machine. Helen Money’s instrumental songs were edgy, she was able to blend various genres depending on how she was playing- classical, punk, drone. Lots of times if I closed my eyes it seemed like there was an electric guitar soloing, and at one point she put down the bow to play with her fingers, which is something I’ve never seen before and sounded great. She was able to fill up the room with her unique music and played with passion.
Shellac came on about 9:30 and played til 11. By this time the whole place was packed, and Union Transfer has a fairly large capacity. Steve Albini, the guitarist/vocalist, wore a Dolly Parton Shirt and raged around the stage. He was pretty sarcastic when he moved around, looking like he was having a seizure, or with his facial expressions. He had his guitar strap around his waist. And the sound of it was rough, slicing and screaming, then at times matter of fact. The bass player, Bob Weston, was totally calm and cool throughout, even when screaming into the mic. He held his bass real low on his body. And the drummer, Todd Trainer, was awesome to watch, he holds his arms in real close and has an intense style, his big moment was on The End of Radio where he moved around on stage with his snare drum. Their music, even if you’ve heard it hundreds of times, is aloof, it’s unpredictable even if you know it, there are awkward pauses and variations in intensity, rhythm, and overall structure. I wasn’t ‘headbanging’ because watching them felt more like having a conversation or watching people do that. Their stage banter was alright, they had a brief “q n a”, made jokes about nuns/pedophiles, and asked the audience to stop singing along (which actually was distracting, because their songs are all about the minimal-hundreds of people also sing was jacked up). Not gonna list everything but they did Ghosts, Steady as She Goes, Squirrel Song, The End of Radio, Prayer to God, Dog and Pony Show, Copper, and ended the night with Crow. I want to say it was almost too perfect of a set. I felt like I was being tricked cause it sounded so good but I’m just lucky they decided to play Philly at all.