The Movies, from Los Angeles, opened the show, and their completely un-self-conscious and slightly snide songs were very entertaining--kind of like the Frogs, but not as dirty. The three-piece played minimalistic, beat-heavy pop songs, and singer Timothy James either played a Rickenbacker left-handed or a keyboard, and sang songs with lyrics like, "Why should I wear a watch when I can look at everybody else's watch?"
The Album Leaf--whose songs have a spacey, worldly feel to them and whose music defies political boundaries--took a while to set up, what with all those keyboards and computers and wires and things. Projection artist Andrew Pates set up a huge piece of canvas behind the stage; once the show started, all the lights were turned down as Jimmy LaValle played the first few notes of the opening track on the band's new record, In a Safe Place, which was recorded in Iceland with Sigúr Ros. As the music swelled, more band members emerged from the darkness. The images on the screen helped to set the mood for the music; there were laser-like swirls and birds and buses and roads and colorful lights.
The Album Leaf played mostly songs from their new record, along with a few "oldies," as LaValle called them. The most engaging part of the show was when they played "On Your Way" from In a Safe Place, and LaValle and his violin player both sang. The sonic quality of the music was energizing; the electrified violin resonated off the narrow walls of Solar Culture, and a live Rhodes has much more warmth and roundness to it than on a recording. LaValle seemed entirely absorbed in the live creation of his songs, barely speaking to the audience and letting each song transition into the next. The show was a stripped down yet more textured recreation of the album; it's amazing what one can do with computers these days.