The best reason to see Stereolab in concert is that they rock live. This was not what I expected from the band who overall has deviated little from the two-chord, vintage-organ, pop wonders they’ve churned out; when I last saw them on the Dots and Loops tour, their live sound is more aggressive, with the drums higher up in the mix. The emphasis was more on the groove; most people could have very easily danced, except that they chose to hold their beers and dance the indie-concert shuffle.
Last night’s excellent concert was no exception, with a setlist mostly taken from the new Fab Four Suture album. (Although not my favorite track from the collection, “Kyberneticka Babicka Pt. 1!”) The “groop’s” playing was remarkably tight, with Laetitia Sadier receiving much appreciation from the audience. (Projected on the back screen were film loops reminiscent of Brakhage and Harry Smith.) The band started off with “Miss Modular,” threw in a surprise “Pack Yr Romantic Mind,” finished the set with “Cybele’s Reverie,” and then played perhaps my favorite Stereolab track (other than “Pinball”), “Outer Bongolia,” which descended into a whirlpool of squelchy, droney noise. (Mary Hansen’s vocals were sadly missed; in my head I kept filling in the background harmonies.)
(Unfortunately I missed almost of Hot Chip’s set; I really wanted to hear “Playboy.” Hot Chip was even goofier and unfunkier in person.)