Seattle's Night Cadet answers the inevitable question of what is post-post-rock? What comes out of a band that has completely absorbed the icy textures of Sigur Rós and attempts to go past it? In Night Cadet's case, the answer is nonrock. No tension, no release, no climax. No ebb, just flow. To be clear, this is a critique of a live performance; this has the potential to sound amazing on record.
In Night Cadet's set, the songs were rendered mostly indistinguishable from each other due to similar echoed guitar patterns and sighing harmonies. At one point, the energy level increased enough to incorporate a full-on disco beat, briefly, but long enough to evoke the Olympian stadium symphonies of Vangelis. But at best, every instrument in the bass-free Night Cadet chimed, even the rolling toms of the drum set. At worst, the music and delivery didn't support lyrics indicating the horrific heartbreak endured by love lost. I've gotten angrier at a glass of orange juice that had pulp in it; Night Cadet will never sleep again and that garners a nonchalant whisper.
S, also from Seattle, were relatively raucous in comparison. Although positive qualities were apparent—exceptional guitar playing, fractured drumbeats and memorable songs—vital signs were still barely noticeable, even in the worst emotional conditions, similar to the ones Night Cadet sang about. Maybe in the Pacific Northwest, the lonely and heartbroken just whisper, "My insomnia is not any more important than yours," and refuse to assert confidence or self-empowerment.
Once the band got warmed up, the '90s MTV Buzz Bin vocal melodies and the edgier music began to gel and, more important, possess a pulse. Still, each song felt unfinished. As soon as S picked up some momentum, the music would suddenly vanish into thin air, inconclusive and undetermined to prove its own point. After hearing two bands declare pain, sorrow, but also independence, to a soundtrack of indifference, it seemed hopeless. But on S's last song, a burst of untethered, unfettered emotion was finally put on display: Jenn Ghetto grabbed her microphone and said very clearly, "I am taking back my heart," and then she and the other three members of her band did just that. With a bang.