Atlas Sound at The Los Angeles Natural History Museum, January 8, 2010 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound at The Los Angeles Natural History Museum, Los Angeles, CA, January 8th, 2010

Jan 15, 2010 Photography by Colleen Police Atlas Sound
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Dinosaurs are totally rock and roll. Think about it: A group of outsiders appeared—seemingly out of nowhere—made a huge impact on history in a very short period, got wildly mixed reviews (Rock critics: direct descendents of cavemen?), and then vanished. In this context, it makes sense that the Los Angeles Natural History Museum would play host to musical acts during the first Friday of the Month program, kicking off the year with Under the Radar cover artist, Bradford Cox (aka Atlas Sound).

It should be noted that for a performance hall filled with dioramas, the Natural History Museum has a phenomenal sound system—one that puts the majority of Los Angeles clubs to shame. Perfect, as Bradford Cox’s music (mastermind behind solo project Atlas Sound and group Deerhunter) can best be described as a series of intense layers, classical pop-structures, and deliciously subversive sonic winks—exactly the sort of thing that sounds best when turned up to 11.

A solo performance, Cox made exceedingly good use of the sound system, retooling cuts from his sophomore album Logos into extended, blissful waves of sound. Playing from a seated position at the back edge of the stage, it was often difficult for much of the audience to see him (The next day I regretted my decision to spend the majority of the set on my tip-toes). But his presence was palatable nonetheless, particularly on reverb-filled “Washington School,” instant-sing along “Shelia,” and evening closer “Attic Lights.” Halfway though the set, Cox played slow, dreamy version of Logos centerpiece “Walkabout,” posing the refrain of “What did you want to be when you grew up?” with such sincerity it was difficult to imagine he hadn’t just answered his own question.

The venue, which Cox gleefully declared full of “wild imagery” played a role in the evening, spurring him to tell the story of two beloved pet hamsters who escaped and spawned an army of rogue hamsters in the walls of his family’s house-complete with “eye-patches and pagan hamster orgies.” His parents’ response? “My father is not like me, he’s a man.” Cox assured us, recounting the moment he saw his father take an abandoned baby hamster in his oversized, weathered hands, resuscitating it with the help of an eyedropper filled with Carnation instant milk. “That was the moment realized my father had a connection to something I couldn’t comprehend.” Cox concluded with reverence, leading the audience in a celebratory chant of “A good man, a good man, a good man’s hands.” Papa Cox may have the market cornered on rodent-related miracles, but by the conclusion of the goose bump-inducing set, Cox made it clear that more than one form of incomprehensible magic runs in the family.



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