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Street heat
Triple Burner and Cosmo Baker take Cambridge

Drawing a crowd to a tiny gallery in Inman Square on a hot Friday night is no small feat. Drawing one to see Canadians play finger-picked guitar and cello and bowed xylophone — well, that’s some next-level shit. And last Friday at Zeitgeist Gallery, Triple Burner and Esmerine were on it. The turnout spoke volumes about the progression of Triple Burner guitarist Harris Newman, who no longer needs his local pal and fellow esoteric folk master Glenn Jones to make a buzz — the audience was twice as large as his previous show in town, even with a hefty $15 door. (Hey, Canucks gotta eat too.) Band mates Beckie Foon and Bruce Cawdron might also have been an attraction — at least to those who count time scanning the liner notes to Godspeed You Black Emperor and A Silver Mt. Zion albums as time well spent.

What with the show starting late, the audience members read books or scrolled their iPods to Explosions in the Sky while the band set up. (I ended up text-messaging myself pithy comments like "D&D-looking dude is reading from his poetry notebook to some girl behind me. ‘I wrote this at the gym today,’ he says. It’s about him finding his moment of peace — I long to know what he means.") When Triple Burner finally led off, Newman’s playing was typically intricate, and Cawdron’s percussion was dreamlike. On the Newman solo track "Driving All Night with Only My Mind," Cawdron dusted both cymbals and xylophone over gently plucked chords. Esmerine followed, with Foon on cello and Cawdron on bowed xylophone. (Run the bow across the very edge of the keys; if it makes weird high-pitched droning noises, you’re on track.) And, well, there’s only so much you can do with cello and bowed xylophone: the compositions, pleasant but unexciting, reached a nice boil when Cawdron got behind the drum kit and Newman joined on electric bass.

Slightly drowsy from the post-rock and in dire need of some pawrty music, your boy sought out an establishment with a liquor license. Philly’s finest DJ, Cosmo Baker, was just up the street at Enormous Room, invading a weekly night hosted by Forced Exposure’s David Day. And though I could see him in the booth, I couldn’t believe my ears. Franz Ferdinand? The Rapture? Where were the smooth soul jams I dug on his Love Break mix? Once I’d shaken off the initial shock, it started to make sense. Baker rocks the party, and this was how the party needed to be rocked.

The following night over at the Adidas Originals store in Harvard Square, Cosmo stuck closer to his conventional style — up-tempo rap, hip-house, and "hipster shit," as he terms it — but the situation was even more bizarre. Ostensibly a sale in celebration of the store’s one-year anniversary, the evening seemed less about people buying Adidas product and more about people being seen drinking Pabst and eating pizza near Adidas product while a DJ spun. Which is not to say it wasn’t a good time, but having your ID checked at the Adidas door will never not be weird. Pity the 16-year-old kids outside hollerin’ at passers-by, "Dude, will you buy for me? I need some new shelltoes."

Chris Nelson can be reached at chris@lemon-red.org

Issue Date: July 1 - 7, 2005
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