Music and visual-art often go hand in hand, and this year electronic music and New York museums have built a very close relationship. On Friday night, Cold Cave, the New York City-based synth-pop band, performed at the Guggenheim, as the iconic rotunda held a sold-out second performance of the three-part Divine Ricochet Concert Series. The duo, composed of Dominick Fernow and Wesley Eisold, took to the small stage with their synths and played a short, energetic and powerful set.
Cold Cave’s performance began with both Fernow and Eisold holding very serious expressions as they played a thunderous track, whose sound was a mix of clashing metal and a landing plane. In this introduction, there was something about the atmosphere provided by the metal works of John Chamberlain and the colliding sounds that worked, as both the sculptures and the sounds played off each other. Surprisingly, the acoustics of the Guggenheim were decent for a concert. The museum’s structure aided the reverberations of the music and of Eisold’s voice as they were multiplied, making for a haunting experience.
The tracks played by Cold Cave were divided among its 2009 album, Love Comes Close, and 2011’s Cherish The Light Years. Fan favorite “Love Comes Close” provided the first vocal track, and most of the audience danced along happily with the band. However, throughout the performance, no one danced as much or as hard as Fernow, who pushed buttons and plugged wires into his synthesizer while jumping up and down, banging his head. Cold Cave also played such tracks as “Underworld USA,” “Lawless,” “Youth And Lust,” and closed the set with “Confetti” as fans danced along to a song about looking “so good on the outside.”
Even though the Guggenheim is a very large museum and 800 tickets were sold, the show felt very intimate. Eisold’s vocals were very raw and were not always perfect, but this worked for Cold Cave and the performances’ juxtaposition with the sculptures. Many of the John Chamberlain sculptures displayed in the retrospective focused around the idea of combining metals and materials; this is something also apparent in Cold Cave’s music. Chamberlain was all about experimenting with colors and materials (paper, metal, foam, etc.), and in its music so is Cold Cave. The band brings synth-pop, dark-wave and Eisold’s past with hardcore together to form tracks that feel equally sculptural.
Photos by Alix Piorun