Need New Body
August 05, 2005
BY JASON SONGE
Did Need New Body form because each member was so open and expressive? Or, did they decide once they were a band to be a childlike live collective? Each Need New Body member seemed to share the same spontaneous mind at Twiropa Friday night. Derelict cabaret, as an online biography categorized them. The electro facepaint quintet from Philadelphia was an obvious fan of freedom dramatics.
The banjo/toy-piano-with-a-vocoder player did a headstand when the song didn't call for it, and then he performed a primal gorilla dance for no reason. It was normal for a band member to epilectically dance to the music when he(it's an all-guy band) wasn't playing. Were they a little crazy or on drugs? What if neither? The icing on the cake for the disjointed mind theory, at least, was that the Moog player sang like Edith Bunker from "All in the Family." You know--in the theme song. The best example of this singing was during "Outer Space," a ballad that owed a lot to children's rhymes, books and imagination. You know these guys watched a lot of Sesame Street and Schoolhouse Rocks!
Besides shoulder shrugs from the banjo player when he performed an off-the-cuff move that he wasn't sure would be received well by the rest of the band, Need New Body was fearless. They weren't self-conscious. In fact, they were acting so silly it seemed like they were at practice. This approach was ambitious and intimidating. It's always intimidating when a person should have fear and they don't. Need New Body's performance said one thing: "We know we're awesome, and that's all that matters. We're gonna have fun no matter what. You're gonna have to deal with us being crazed lollipops for an hour." At times the banjo player was so confident that he was aloof. Maybe that was just a mechanism of defense against criticism.
The music was as adventurous as the no-shirt, super-mulletted, jam shorts ensemble that keyboardist Dale Jimenez was sporting. Jimenez left his keyboard twice to rap and crazy jump kick around the stage. His cut-and-paste lyrical and whispered vocal style nodded heavily to Beck's "Midnite Vultures." Need New Body's instrumental line-up was drums, bass, banjo, and two synthesizers.
Need New Body took from rock, noise, and jazz. They created a pastiche of sound at Twiropa that was neither one nor the other. They used the rollicking, freewheeling blast of rock during their faster, more headbang-worthy songs. They used the crazed improvisation of noise on command--if someone in the band all of a sudden wanted to get freaky. There were a couple of jam-outs at the end of songs. Need New Body enjoyed improvisation within the structure of songs. What meter is this song in? Oh, who cares? Are you dancing? Well, then keep on dancing.
The drummer was great because he inserted a crazy beat or just stopped playing until he decided to start again. Was he hardcore or jazz? He played so many notes and was all over the place. He morphed his playing to whatever the music needed. He was the leader.
Need New Body's mash-up twas fun, no matter what it should be called. It was music you either headbang viciously to or do a uncontrolled dance with. It was up-tempo stuff. The melodies were catchable, but the music was challenging. You should have an open mind about the music starting and stopping in weird spots and the use of unconventional instruments before you see them. Get ready to get playful. Bring your coloring book.