AU59: Oneida live review

October 12, 2009



Oneida are on their 10th studio album, and it’s a triple, so only a fool would have come to the Black Box expecting anything close to restraint or concision. And, true enough, after a cursory greeting of “We’re Oneida, see ya round,” the Brooklyn band (normally a quartet, but swollen to five tonight) launch into an opening instrumental of patience-trying proportions. The band are well known for their love of monotony and repetition, but only when you experience a track that takes several minutes to meet its first sonic shift do you really understand the extent of that fixation. In the end, the subtle, drummer-led alterations every few minutes drag you along just as you’re starting to become infuriated, but its near-20 minutes of head-down, linear power come across more clever-clever than anything else; a band staring its audience out – literally, in the case of the keyboardist.

In truth, it’s a slightly disappointing evening. The sound doesn’t help, the band’s crisp Krautrock jams getting lost in the echoey room, and because of that it’s hard to be too critical, but even aside from that, there’s a lack of nuance that renders the whole experience exhausting. Nearly every song blasts into view at high speed and keeps on accelerating, and while the drumming especially is a marvel, it starts to feel like aural – and physical – punishment. But then, in a moment of pure serendipity, they introduce ‘Up With People’ – the best track from 2006’s Happy New Year album – and it becomes the perfect closer, its neoprene-tight groove as irresistible live as on record, provoking dancefloor joy among those left at the end. It’s fair reward for sticking with an occasionally trying show.


One comment

  1. Chris, that guy with the dead centre of the Obeida photo looks like you. or he looks like you at 35 and slightly podgy.

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