Fiery Furnaces always have something jingling in their pockets. The last time they zigzagged across the country, they were touting “Democ-rock” and allowing fans to vote on which songs they played. This time, as part of the run-up to their new album, I’m Going Away, they pulled out another novel set list approach. Sandwiched between some toasted classics, the band stuffed a helping of fresh and juicy meat from the new disc. And they didn’t throw on just a few slices. They stacked up the whole thing.
The Furnaces have always had a knack for pulling together disparate parts and making them work, and this live concept was right in line with that. They combined the ATP/Don’t Look Back trend of having artists perform entire albums with the leak-battling efforts that have forced bands like Wilco to offer streaming previews before their street dates. The result: a unique live experience that trumps the banal “listening party” and also pulls fans away from those pesky Rapidshare vices. Why scour the net for that illegal download when you can go shake it with the Friedberger siblings themselves?
The Le Poisson Rouge show began with the timely “Here Comes The Summer,” and then laid on a little more familiarity with “Leaky Tunnels” and “Chris Michaels.” The in-the-round setup made it easy to see that there would be no keys for the night, only strings. This was quite a move for Matt Friedberger, who often comes off like a mad scientist behind his synths, but the band showed that they can roll even as a four-piece riff machine.
I’m Going Away was next, and the band bowled through the 12 tracks with a directness not typical of their prog-y history. With the new songs, the band dwells a little longer and digs a little deeper. Eleanor described three songs as being about ex-boyfriends, and the band joked about running out of ideas, but it mostly seems that the Friedbergers, along with the ace rhythm section of Jason Loewenstein and Bob D'Amico, have carved out a more steady and mature sonic groove.
Another helping of older tunes served as the night’s desert, and they were a pleasant reward for the somewhat overwhelming task of digesting an entire new Fiery Furnaces release. A kraut-y version of “Single Again” was the final number, proving once more that the band’s catalog can swim in a variety of sonic seas, whether surrounded by EP’s punchy synths and drum machines or this night’s guitar feedback and propulsive grooves.
Overall, the evening provided a wholesome meal of both old and new, with everything prepared and seasoned to match the Fiery Furnaces’ current aural palate. Satiation was achieved, for sure, but the band also managed to leave mouths watering for their upcoming release.