“Feel the terror? Do you feel that fucking terror?” whispered Memphis singer Torquil Campbell from the studious bookshelf and lantern walls of Brooklyn’s Union Hall last night (May 31), right before demanding the lights be cut and the audience take a seat on the floor. “Now, molest the person next to you,” he continued, and the upper-echelon of Park Slope’s most sentimental hipsters complied, as he already set the jokester standard by suggesting that the band skip the song about premarital sex and get on with the one about magic mushrooms in Vancouver.
An odd, string heavy “Ghost Song” glimpse of an otherwise bright, jazz-pop set, the New York-based duo were all bossa nova hip-shaking mostly jams from their latest record A Little Place in the Wilderness. “Incredibly Drunk On Whiskey” was the moment of fire; Campbell belting out the ode to booze more irreverent and nonchalant than Strokes maestro Julian Casablancas himself. Closing the show with their classic satirical stab at death, from their first EP, “The Ferry Boy,” it was only fitting for Memphis to strip down from its five-piece form to an ultra smooth sax, vocal, guitar trio: “Don’t care for life/don’t care for death/just keep on sailing to the end.”
Snagging a post-show comment, SPIN.com asked Campbell a little joke on account of the classroom sized audience…and of course, the new album — if a rocker strikes a chord in the wilderness, but no fan is around to hear it, does it make a sound? — to which he replied, “Abso-fucking-lutley, man! That’s the great thing about rock’n’roll nobody has to be there.” GAVIN PAUL GIOVAGNOLI / PHOTOS BY JACKIE ROMAN
We asked: Playing off the title of Memphis’ latest album A Little Place in the Wilderness, what was the last thing you did in the wilderness?