Phil Weiztman, Galoshes, West End 4/20/02
Phil Weitzman’s band “Galoshes” made their debut at the West End this Saturday, April 20th. Joining Weitzman’s guitar was Matt Hough on guitar and Alex Hoskins on drums. This trio’s playing could not be described other than simply “modern music”- it soon became apparent that these three sons of the Manhattan School of Music have grown tired with the trends of jazz and rock, and it was finally time for something else.
The set opened with Weitzman’s unaccompanied guitar gently strumming, while the some of the saddest words about lost love were quietly shaken out of his hanging head. The love song tugged at the strings of the heart, yet it retained a slight sense of humor. If Stephen Merritt’s singing were more subdued, there would be no problem putting this track on “69 Love Songs.” However, right in the midst of Weitzman’s vocal, Hoskins simultaneously struck every piece of drum equipment he owned while Hoskins practically cost the bar its liquor license with an explosion of distortion. Then, just as suddenly, Hough and Hoskins immediately fell silent to reveal the underlying music of Weitzman’s vocal and weeping guitar, “I want to come... back... to you..” This is overpowered once again by his cohorts, until the song returns to a cappella for its haunting conclusion. This was truly postmodernism’s finest hour.
Next up was another of Weitzman’s tunes, a beautifully complicated composition where the two guitars play interweaving repetitive melodies that shift time signatures and harmonies with reckless abandon. Drummer Alex Hoskins followed right along and had no problem soloing in any given time signature. The Steve Reich influence was clear in this piece, but the concept was updated in an intelligent way. Although the beauty of Reich’s works comes from hearing the “process” of the repetitive melodies develop themselves, many listeners lack the attention span to really become absorbed by the music. Weitzman took Reich’s melodic and harmonic sensibilities and organized them into coherent sections that were repetitive yet exciting when the transitions among sections were made at the drop of a hat.
The remaining two tunes, a highly arranged drum feature by Hoskins and Hough’s through-composed rock piece that changed time signatures every three seconds, paled in comparison with Weitzman’s writing. Nevertheless, it was great to see the West End returning to a place of artistic exploration once again, where artists actually try to make their music interesting, and direct some attention towards their craft. Galoshes’ set was a pleasure to experience, in that they are taking chances in music, and actually trying to do something meaningful with postmodernism- contemporary music’s dirtiest word. John Zorn would be proud.