concert reviews

The Clock Ticks Down For American Analog Set
American Analog Set at the Black Cat, Washington, DC, Tuesday 6 December 2005

American Analog Set's concert on Tuesday night at the Black Cat came toward the end of what the band is calling its final major tour, which will wrap up on Sunday in the group's home town of Austin. (The band says it isn't splitting up, just not touring anymore.) One would have expected such an event to attract a large, attentive crowd, but that was not the case. The moderate-size audience spent much of the 70-minute set talking, drowning out many of the nuances in the group's delicate music.

A few up-tempo songs, such as "The Kindness of Strangers" and "Hard to Find," settled into a rocking groove that momentarily surpassed the crowd's noise. But the lilting first half of "It's All About Us" was so sparse and mellow that the crowd's chatter nearly overpowered guitarist Andrew Kenny's barely whispered vocals. Despite the constant rumble from the audience, the band seemed not to notice any sound other than its own. Kenny sang with his eyes shut for much of the show, and vibraphonist Sean Ripple was so engulfed in the music that he was constantly moving in rhythm.

The crowd dwindled as the final droning chord of the band's last song, "We're Computerizing and We Just Don't Need You Anymore," morphed into a murmured "Continuous Hit Music" performed by Kenny solo. He then spoke about how much he and his band love playing music. "It really is our pleasure to play for you," he stated generously, unfazed by the thinning and inattentive crowd.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 24 February 2005
.: Selected discography: Set Free (American Analog Set, 2005); Promise of Love (American Analog Set, 2003); HOME Volume 5 (Ben Gibbard & Andrew Kenny, 2003); Know By Heart (American Analog Set, 2001); Through the 1990s: Singles and Unreleased (American Analog Set, 2001); The Golden Band (American Analog Set, 1999); From Our Living Room to Yours (American Analog Set, 1997); The Fun of Watching Fireworks (American Analog Set, 1996).