Review: Fischerspooner @ Metro, 5/30

Fischerspooner now isn't exactly the same Fischerspooner as some years ago. According to Casey Spooner, the new album Entertainment was put together with co-founder Warren Fischer in a different manner than its predecessors. And without the backing of a major label anymore, it seems the group had more freedom in their approach to Entertainment's accompanying stage show, entitled Between Worlds.

Along with Casey Spooner were four dancers and two musicians twisting knobs and playing with Powerbooks to the side, though no live musicians. Now, it's no surprise that an electroclash group has a flamboyant stage performance. The audience was begging for it. Slick design drew some interesting inspiration from Kabuki. Projections behind the band often featured rehearsals. (Seeing a ragged Spooner on tape behind the perfectly-coiffed one in person was quite a sight.) Costumes ranged from plain nude body suits to an elaborate neon hat, bolero jacket and whatever this is. (I loved that, by the way.)

The programmed music was basically straight from the albums. Only a few diversions kept the audience from knowing every beat ahead of time. Hardly shocking was the rapturous applause for their 2001 breakout hit "Emerge", leading Spooner to mock the crowd, "You really want to hear this one? But it's so old. Is it ok if we skip it?" While it's understandable for a performer to not want to be defined by only one song, it was clearly what the people wanted to hear. When an artist proclaims that, despite the sets and the wardrobes and the choreography, each show is still unique, they have to project to the audience that they themselves do not become bored with the material. Undoubtedly ignited by the crowd's fervor, "Emerge" was one of the few songs where everyone on stage appeared to be excited. Other pure highlights were "Sweetness" (also from the first record) and "Never Win" for the planned encore.

All in all, though, it was rather tame for such a built-up event. There was nothing bad about it. But there was also not a whole lot that was eye-catching or very memorable. The mirror walls were used by the dancers and Spooner effectively enough. Vanessa Walters' choreography was fine and the dancers were proficient. The music matched expectations. And Spooner didn't disappoint as a frontman. But there was no moment to think, "This is the reason why I see music performed live." If a group puts on a big production and dresses up music that's already perfectly acceptable, shouldn't the performance be outstanding? Otherwise, what's the point of the hoopla?

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