Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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From a Quick Brad Concert to a Quick One with Le Mépris and The Agency

March 11, 2012

Three concerts to report on, one being my own: Friday night I had a sudden concert to do at a place called Evidence Bar, in Paris’s funky 20th Arrondissement. After learning that the bar was minuscule and that the sound system was even less copious, I got really worried – only to arrive, set up, realize that thanks to the small size of the bar I could perform without a mic and not lose my voice… and so it not only all worked out okay, but the atmosphere was fabulous, the layout of the place was super cool – spectators could listen inside at the bar or outside on the terrace and hear just fine – and the biggest icing on the cake was having Félix Beguin play along on lead, and add chorus vocals. We had a GREAT time.

And thanks also to my friend Chloé, who offered to make some videos of the gig, although I should have switched on the “night” lighting control, as it is very dark, and the sound of my voice is somewhat cancelled out by the ambient noise…but still…. Thanks also to Calvin McEnron who passed my name on to the bar talent coordinator for the show…. All in all, it was a wonderful Friday evening on a night where I had nothing planned….

I DID have something planned for Saturday night, though, and that was the very special concert introducing the new band of a couple of the members of the French band called Neimo, which has recorded a couple of albums and is working on another – having recently signed with Sony Music for a new album. Neimo’s high moment of the last few years was recording an album called “Modern Incidental,” at the Shangri La label in the U.S.

But now Bruno Alexander, the singer, and Camille Troillard, the Neimo lead guitarist, have put together a band with a drummer and bassist called, Le Mépris, and last night they tested their music for the first time in a concert. It had quite a different feel than Neimo, who I saw in concert last year, and there were some nice inventive things to this. It was a little like seeing some well known band that plays its new music when you’re used to the old stuff – you’re not entirely sure what you think of it, even if you like it. Which I did.

And now, having listened to it on the recordings that I made on my Zoom Q3 HD, I find it is sensational stuff. Really great. I must confess that having to stand next to the speak to record the stuff, I wore earplugs last night to preserve my hearing – my brain does not have the automatic level control that the Zoom has….

I first met Bruno and became aware of Neimo more than three years ago at Earle’s open mic at the Lizard Lounge, and there I also met the members of and became aware of the music of another band, The Agency, which has been building up its style and repertoire steadily ever since. Last night they played after Le Mépris, and it sounded like they had taken yet another step forward since the last time I heard them, sometime last year.

Oh, and to step back a little, that brings to mind that last time I saw The Agency was at the Maroquinerie last year when another of the bands was Natas Loves You. One of the songs Natas played on that night – and one they often sang at open mics – was King Crimson’s haunting, “I Talk to the Wind.” I was floored last night to hear Le Mépris doing the same song – this very cool song that has come out of the deep dark passages of my memory from my youth to young bands today in Paris…. It’s hardly a rock standard, but it bears resemblance to the sort of stuff that recent bands like the Fleet Foxes do….

This evening concert with Le Mépris and The Agency was, by the way, organized by a small, independent record label in Paris called, A Quick One, which specializes in producing vinyl albums for a large number of the top new groups in France. It also sells the music on its Quick One Internet site. The concert took place in a small room called Studio Campus, in a place that looked almost like a community center – I thought I’d arrived at the wrong place….

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