When I saw Celebration supporting TVOTR, I hadn’t heard any of their music before. Granted, this is a fairly unusual position these days, what with every band having a myspace and all that, but I just never checked them out. But as my recent experience proves, this kind of ignorance can be a good thing.
Catching Celebration live is an essential part of appreciating their music. I watched, increasingly captivated as their set unfurled before me. There was singer Katrina Ford, doing her charismatic flailing at the front of the stage. There was Sean Antanaitis knocking out impressive soundscapes on the ‘guitorgan’ a strange hybrid between organ and guitar, which also seems to act as a bass as well. David Bergander was providing the tight, funky drumming. David Sitek from TVOTR joined them for a substantial part of their set, adding layers of guitar and additional percussion. We even had an appearance from Tunde Adebimpe (TVOTR vocalist) on one song.
As you can probably tell, the two bands are mates from Brooklyn, and have a lot to do with each other, not just on stage. Sitek was the producer of their debut, self-titled album, which also features vocal appearances from Adebimpe and Kyp Malone. In return, Ford has sung on some TVOTR tracks, including Staring at the Sun. It’s a big Brooklyn love-in!
As with their mates, Celebration’s music may take a while to appreciate properly, which is why their mesmerising performance was the best place to start, before trying out the album. I’ve seen some lazy, negative comparisons to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but although they’re both 3-pieces from Brooklyn with charismatic female singers, that’s about where it ends. Katina doesn’t quite clamber the walls like Karen O, and her voice has a greater depth and strength that her more famous compatriot doesn’t have (though she can yelp too!). They also don’t have the YYY’s pop sensibilities – their music is more dense, intense and complex and may take a while to unravel to find all the gems hidden within.
Live, like on the record, Celebration’s sound is dominated by the swooping and soaring of the sounds of the guitorgan. Towards the end of the set, the beats get tighter and funkier, inviting the indie kids to dance (and I mean properly dance, not jumping around, rock-style). And then they’re off, only to return later to provide extra vox and percussion for their mates. That’s what friends are for.
For your listening pleasure, here are a couple of my favourite tracks from Celebration. At the moment, I just can’t get enough of Diamonds – it’s a dark, theatrical funeral waltz, maybe best performed in an abandoned music hall. Stars is a pulsing, atmospheric gem, and a fine album closer. Listen and explore further…
Download: Celebration – Diamonds
Download: Celebration – Stars