Tusks hanging out in a hallway, similar to their stage presence.
HARBOURCOATS and TUSKS opening for the FEMBOTS at the Horseshoe, Friday (January 23). Rating: NN
Thinking back, there hasn't been a single Friday night I've spent at the Horseshoe when the brew hoisting assembly hasn't been yappy. But in most cases, the hired talent has the requisite crowd control skills to get the attention of a noisy audience if not completely win them over.
Tusks, however, appeared to have acquired no such tools. So instead of trying to break through the chatter, the passive foursome were content to quietly play through their set of Steely Dan-bent math rock with vocals just as they'd practiced in their rehersal space completely oblivious to the fact that they were on stage before a live audience.
Those who'd formed little circles with school friends simply kept right on nattering about their weekend shopping plans pausing only to answer their cellphones or make calls to find out what was happening later that evening. One seated dude pouring over a textbook with a highlighter in hand looked to be studying for a sociology midterm.
Tusks performed five ho-hum songs before a single person applauded which stopped abruptly when no one else joined in.
Since the Harbourcoats were led by singer/guitarist Bry Webb of the beloved Constantines, you'd figure they'd do much better with the disinterested audience. Nope. Judging by the way they opened their set with Webb moaning the intermitent slap of tambourines, they weren't going to make any attempt to connect with those beyond the stagefront dancefloor.
Instead Webb softly crooned his somber Tindersticks-y tunes over gobs of reverb like Harbourcoats were trying not to interrupt anyone's conversations. The audience size shrunk quickly as their dull performance continued.