Matthew C.X. Langford, AOL Alex Zhang Hungtai, the one-man band dubbed Dirty…
- Posted on Jun 19th 2011 11:25AM by Jason MacNeil
Matthew C.X. Langford
With his electric guitar, a microphone whose effects gave his vocals a seedy, sinister tone and pedals to build one guitar loop over another, Dirty Beaches occasionally resembled a deranged preacher over his eight-song, 35-minute NXNE set Saturday, June 18.
The performance at the AOL-sponsored Yonge-Dundas Square concert, which included some rough cuts (introduced by the Vancouver-based rocker as "new stuff I'm working on"), was at times eerie but always compelling. Whether on 'True Blue,' which he dedicated to the ladies, or the rockabilly-laced 'Sweet 17,' the music rarely give the audience a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Dirty Beaches recalls both the Jesus and Mary Chain's fabulous feedback experiments and crooner Chris Isaak. His tunes also clearly tap into Bruce Springsteen's haunting 1982 album, 'Nebraska' -- as made evident by the title of his Polaris Prize-nominated album, 'Badlands.'
If there was one miscue, it was a cover of Mattress' 'El Dorado' which had him sans guitar and crooning like a jilted lover from a David Lynch film. Acknowledging that he'd "graduated from playing basements" to NXNE's main stage at Yonge-Dundas Square (the same stage that New Wave icons Devo would grace hours later), Dirty Beaches ended the set with a grin on his face and a few fist pumps. A fine set, even if the songs provoke images of dark, dimly lit alleys -- a strange brew for a gloriously sunny day.