Noise Pop Show Review: Scout Niblett at Café Du Nord, 2/25/10

by Jason LeRoy on February 26, 2010

Scout Niblett making "Serene Face," one of her two stage expressions (the other is "Howling Rage"), at the Hemlock last year.

Some artists just aren’t well-served by the giddy party-vibe atmosphere of Noise Pop. And last night, despite performing in one of the most intimate and mild-mannered venues in San Francisco, British guitar fury Scout Niblett took her place in that group.

This should not suggest that anything was amiss with Ms. Niblett’s performance. She and her drummer took to the stage and did their Scout Niblett thing, captivating fans with their primal, bare-bones intensity. Niblett’s sound is typically described as sparse and minimal, and with good reason.

On her four LPs, she has generally accompanied herself on heavy, bone-crunching guitar and drums — and that’s it. Her languid melodies draw from blues and punk, and are imbued with scorched-earth rage and passion. She is frequently compared to early Cat Power and PJ Harvey; musical style aside, she also shares both a UK label (Too Pure) and a producer (Steve Albini) with Ms. Harvey’s early recordings. But despite these similarities, she remains an entirely electrifying original.

So, what went wrong? Perhaps it all depended on where you were standing. Given that this was a Noise Pop show, Du Nord had a very full and noisy crowd that wasn’t necessarily there to see any certain act. I arrived just as Niblett was beginning, and could only get as far as the precipice between the concert floor and the bar area. This makes all the difference in the geography of Café Du Nord; namely, the difference between hearing the music and hearing the guys playing pool and the drunks at the bar.

I doubt this was Niblett’s first time playing at a noisy bar, and she probably knows better than to try drowning everyone out. So, she planted herself on the stage, burned her way through maybe an hour-long set (which, over the din, sounded something like quiet quiet quiet LOUD LOUD quiet quiet LOUD, etc), kept audience interaction to a minimum, and left unceremoniously with a quick wave of her hand.

It was my first time seeing her in concert, and it definitely wasn’t an optimal experience. I hope to see her again in a more dedicated setting, where I can more fully experience the raw power of her music.

Read Also:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: