Her Space HOliday opening for GLORIA Record at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Wednesday (January 23). $10. 416-598-4753.
A computer and a sequencer set up onstage aren't exactly a recipe for musical excitement. Her Space Holiday screen-gazer Marc Bianchi knows first-hand just how dull laptop shows can be, since he's put on his fair share of snoozers in the past.
The San Mateo-based Bianchi, who went digital after serving time in emocore outfits Indian Summer, Mohinder and Calm, spent much of last year quietly presenting his elegantly arranged soft pop delights to indifferent Bright Eyes loyalists seated in cross-legged silence at small clubs throughout the U.S.
"That was a miserable experience," groans Bianchi from his home just south of the glitch techno stronghold of San Francisco. "It was just my girlfriend Keely and me onstage, and we couldn't seem to get anyone to listen to us.
"But I don't blame the audiences at all. If I'd been watching our performances and listening to what was coming out of the PA, I wouldn't have enjoyed it either. Considering how weak our sets were, we were lucky to make it through the tour without getting our asses kicked."
Physical violence from Bright Eyes fans? Not likely. Being forced to play to backpacks was the worst Her Space Holiday had to face. This time around, Bianchi is determined to add some thrills to the performances.
Although the quiet, slowly unfolding soundscapes of the ironically named Manic Expressive (Tiger Style) disc do not appear to lend themselves to high-energy stage excitement, Bianchi has a plan.
"While listening to some of James Brown's live recordings, I noticed that even his ballads are pretty upbeat. So we're going to play most of the songs at faster tempos, which will make them a little more engaging.
"We're trying to loosen up a bit and have more fun. We've got a smoke machine and a light show now, so that should help with the visual component.
"And between songs there'll be a recorded voice that insults us by saying how weak we are and how everything we're doing is just karaoke. Hopefully, people will get the idea that we don't take ourselves too seriously."
Of course, if the smoke and lights fail, there are always chicken suits.
"Actually, I had this fantasy of playing in those mascot costumes. I checked online and found out those things cost anywhere from $800 to $1,200! So forget it. There's gonna be so much smoke, nobody will see us anyway."