By Reyan Ali
2:00 PM EDT, April 2, 2013
Chelsea Light Moving
w/ Prana-Bindu, World Domination and Marco Fusinato. $20, 9 p.m., April 6. Arch Street Tavern, 85 Arch St., Hartford, archstreettavern.com
One afternoon late last February, Trevor Healy enjoyed a most coveted birthday present: a personal and free basement performance from Chelsea Light Moving. Chelsea — a key current pursuit of fiendishly prolific Thurston Moore since weirdo indie icons Sonic Youth waved g'bye in 2011 — became entangled in the party-promising business rather innocuously. An overzealous press release promoting March's Chelsea Light Moving, the four-piece's debut full-length, closed with this boast: "The band is ready to detonate any birthday party, wedding or hullabaloo in any country, planet or stratosphere that doesn't support right-wing extremist NRA-sucking bozo-ology." (At least they're specific.)
In a Feb. 12 entry announcing Chelsea's newest tour dates, well-trafficked music blog Brooklyn Vegan half-jokingly prodded the group for not actually scheduling any shows of the aforementioned birthday party/wedding/hullabaloo variety. Soon, the post's comments were overflowing with strangers requesting Chelsea's presence at scattered spots: an aunt's 90th birthday party in Cleveland, houses everywhere (Paris, Maine, Long Island, Los Angeles), a barn in West Virginia, a backyard in El Paso and so on. The venue pitching was a gag at first, but the thread eventually turned so eager and excited that Moore himself stepped in to proclaim that his band would indeed "detonate ANY FUKKING birthday." The "any" claim was still too grandiose, yes, but the gears were already in motion. One grand prize eventually made it out to Healy, a Haydenville, Mass.-based guitar luthier and tech, and some 100 guests.
Truthfully, the contest was mostly rigged in Trevor's favor. The band have employed Healy's professional services before, three out of Chelsea's four members reside around 15 minutes away in Northampton and drummer John Moloney even practices with Local Gyro, another of his many bands, in the same space as the birthday show. "For us, it was cool because it wasn't a club and it's just like playing in our living room for a bunch of friends. People really appreciated the fact that they got to see us play without having to travel," says a game but ragged-soundng Moloney, 41, as Chelsea are deep into touring. "They were blown away by how tight we were and how heavy it was."
By all accounts, the band predominantly exist for lighthearted pursuits like this rather than to fulfill any big goals for any of the members. All of Chelsea's non-Moore personnel — namely, Moloney, Keith Wood and Samara Lubelski — have played in outfits signed to Moore's pet project indie label Ecstatic Peace!, and all have opened for Sonic Youth in some capacity, so there's a lot of camaraderie and fun at work here. Chelsea Light Moving (who crib their moniker from an obscure moving company run by experimental composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich) originally came together in 2011 when Moore brought along the trio to promote his solo acoustic album Demolished Thoughts. "We had no idea that it was going to last this long. We just thought we were going to be Thurston's touring band for the album cycle, which would have been about three, four months," Moloney says. "It's going on two years now."
No grand ideas or ambitions drive this band, the drummer adds, and everyone gets along swimmingly. Moore's name might hover at the top of the marquee, but Moloney — who also plays with him in a separate improv noise project — doesn't feel like a hired gun. In a similar vein, Chelsea's sound has a ramshackle feel that doesn't have any definite goals to fulfill. Their raw, jangly garage rock has no interest in following a straight narrative line, instead veering off in directions pensive ("Heavenmetal"), white-knuckle tense ("Alighted"), bubbly ("Empires of Time") and classically punk (Chelsea Light Moving closes with a real cool cover of Germs' "Communist Eyes") whenever the urge strikes.
Really, Moloney doesn't have much new insight to share on Chelsea Light Moving, which might be a product of him sounding absolutely eaten alive by touring. (He relishes the notion of the Hartford performance since it will allow him to sleep in his own bed that night). What's more likely, however, is that they just aren't the sort of band who anyone needs to think too much about. "[Chelsea will last for] as long as it stays fun, and as long as people want to see us play," Moloney says. "We don't have any plans to not play for the foreseeable future. We'll be kept busy for a while."
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