Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Celebrate Celebration!

It’s time to return to Celebration. I didn’t talk about them much when I wrote about the TV on the Radio gig a couple of weeks ago. That’s because I figured that they deserve their own post. So here it is.

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

Buy Celebration.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the aforementioned Miss Ozelek (spelling?) based a lot of her vocal and stage performance on Katrina after seeing Celebration play a while back before YYYs got big

Anonymous said...

oh and just to be really pedantic, Celebration hail from Baltimore not Brooklyn!

Anonymous said...

Yup, Celebration are from Baltimore - that's how they know Dave Sitek cos he's originally from there.
The guitorgan was also used in Sean, David and Katrina's last band Love Life - Dave Sitek also produced their two albums.
Love Life was basically the celebration line-up plus bassist Anthony Malat (Universal Order of Armageddon). Sean didn't use the hammond, wurlitzer or taurus II bass pedals (that's where the bass comes from in celebration - sean plays those with his feet while playing organ, wurlitzer and guitar) but did use the guitorgan.
Before that Sean and Katrina (who are now married) were in JAKS, who released one album called "hollywood blood capsules" but have had everything (album plus 2 7"s, one produced by steve albini) on a cd called "here lies the body of JAKS" on threeoneg. there's a love life video and jaks song at, some love life songs are at and also there's a track at
celebration are also on a birthday party tribute album, released by threeoneg which i haven't heard yet. I think katrina said they did king ink.
oh also celebration used to be birdland, until they found out the name had already been used. they used some of the birdland songs, which were recorded just by sean and katrina with a drum machine, when they got david bergander back on the celebration album. the birdland website had tonight (link didn't work so i don't have it), waste time and lost souls mp3s... i have waste time and lost souls if anyone wants them. as far as i know they recorded a whole album as birdland which hasn't been released, and they definitely played gigs as birdland with just the two of them.
aaaaand i think that'll be all for today's lesson.....

The Daily Growl said...

Wow! Thanks for the lesson! Must check 'em all out...