September 7, 2013

That Was The Show That Was: Porcelain Raft with Avox Blue, Casey Desmond | Great Scott, Boston | 4 Sept.

Porcelain Raft, Avox Blue, Casey Desmond | Great Scott, Boston | 4 Sept.

[PHOTO: Dillon Riley] Brooklyn-based synth-pop outfit Porcelain Raft Wednesday night opened the tour supporting the new set Permanent Signal right here in Boston at Great Scott. I'd been a big fan of the act since the release of its early 2012 debut Strange Weekend, but this would be the first time I was able to experience how Italian-born mastermind Mauro Remiddi and co. render the dense sound of their records in front of a live audience. The crowd vibe was subdued as the trio mounted the stage, live drummer in tow, and sparked the proceedings with "Think Of The Ocean," the first song off Permanent Signal. Right away Mr. Remiddi showcased the key building block of the band's sound, a vast array of vintage keyboards and synthesizers. Porcelain Raft's songs may be self-serious, but Remiddi seemed at ease in front of the crowd, content to not take himself too seriously.

The threesome augmented their live instrumentation with presets and a drum machine, and the blend of played and prompted sounds gave the performance a warmth some might argue is lacking from its recordings. In fact, Porcelain Raft comes off a lot more human on stage than even devotees might expect, and indeed the band Wednesday sounded a lot better in flagranza than what is captured on their LPs. The one-two punch off "Ocean" and "Cluster," with its ringing guitar leads, set a somber and yet startlingly playful tone for the remainder of the set, which we were pleased to note included songs from Strange Weekend as well as many of the highlights from the new record, which was released Aug. 20 by Secretly Canadian. The trio closed with "Drifting In And Out" from the debut, icing on the cake, as the song is a personal favorite.

Throughout, I couldn't shake the feeling that the show was severely under-attended. This is a project that's been boosted by prominent online outlets, and yet there I was up against the stage with plenty of elbow room. But that is, of course, one thing that makes shows like Wednesday's so great, that feeling that you're onto something a lot of people are ignoring or just don't get. Local synth-gaze producer Avoxblue and electropop purveyor Casey Desmond opened, and acquitted themselves well. -- Dillon Riley

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