Live: The Clientele @ The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles – 5.24.07

All photos by David Greenwald

Finally got to see the Clientele, one of my favorite groups of the last few years. They didn’t disappoint, though the set was a bit short. They could’ve played their last two albums straight through and I’d have been happy. As is, though, they opened with “Since K Got Over Me” (OMG) and things just got better after that. The Knitting Factory was packed but the crowd was attentive, with some even dancing a little bit.

Alasdair MacLean’s big secret is that he doesn’t play with a pick — a rarity for electric guitarists. As far as I know, even Elliott Smith, that master finger-stylist, switched over when he wasn’t playing an acoustic. But MacLean seems to have perfected the technique, giving his guitar arpeggios a softness that using a pick makes impossible. He was spot-on all night and his solos, even more impressively, were fiery and precise. The only thing that held him back was a technical snafu: his guitar went out for a bit during some of his runs on the solo-heavy “The Garden at Night.”

It wouldn’t shock me if new keyboardist/violinist Mel Draisy (who’s only credited on a few songs on the new album) was chosen more for her statuesque attractiveness than for her musical abilities. She wasn’t bad, she just seemed a little dazed wandering around the stage with her violin… not that I’m complaining about having a cute girl in the band.

By the way, the Clientele have a blog on which they post art and poetry and, occasionally, music news. And Paul from Hate Something Beautiful was at the show too and apparently has a better camera than me — as does Pitchfork’s photog.

The Clientele – “Bookshop Casanova”: mp3
The Clientele – “Winter on Victoria Street”: mp3

(God Save the Clientele is out now on Merge Records)


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