Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
There is this band from the United Kingdom called Muse. They apparently are the most ruling-est thing in all of the over there land -- amongst the old country sarcasm, the big league festivals and summer monsoons. Their live shows are reportedly non-proportional, cowing all other shows into sniveling, snot-nosed excuses for performances. They bounded over here to North America at the beginning of this month for a show in Ontario before travelling south to Detroit and then a ringing buzz through the Lollapalooza grounds, followed by a Madison Square Garden one-nighter. They brought more light with them then the moon -- easily winning a fictitious award for Bulbs Aplenty - and began their Lolla set with a gorgeous bit of a John F. Kennedy speech that was a red hand smack to the face of the Current Occupant (as Garrison Keillor calls him) for setting our human progression back five decades, if not more.
They - this band that goes by the name of Muse - are wildly believed to be something that is bigger than life, allowing the poor men a different version of Radiohead, one that can give forth the kind of massive pageantry that is desired between those labored over Yorke-penned albums. They are not the stopgap or a substitute for anything, but rather an example of a band that is most definitely bigger than three men. It's bigger than an army of men. It's bigger than the West. It's bigger than the East. It's bigger than blinding lights. It's bigger than the feeling that slowly spills over you when The Edge starts playing "City of Blinding Lights," with that drapery of apple and clear-colored beaded lights exploding into an unforgettable unison.
This piece is not about Muse or U2, but instead, the Australian band Dappled Cities, a group that encompasses many of those same beatific intangibles that are neither gaudy, nor bombastic, but shouldn't be approached as lightly applied flare. It requires a great deal of unforced measurement to make music that allows one to imagine the distinct possibility of fitting an entire sky - along with all of the creatures airborne within it - into a hind pocket for keeps.
There's a huge tornado/portal effect when one of the many songs from the band's latest, Granddance, with the frightening wind gusts and banging-against-the-side-of-the-house shutters, begins to play that kicks your hair back, flaps your cheeks and gives you a tan. It's such as the depiction of a storybook opening up and all of the characters and settings and weather events and beasts and conversations and noises and such all try to escape at the same time - hitting you with a wall of a world that wasn't there before the front cover was cracked partially. You just let it fly open and you let the beams and cacophony of emotional range spread out all over the place like a sidewalk chalk mural.
It's a little about the time and it's a lot about the mood, which infuses itself directly into your bloodstream and pretty soon whatever these songs are made out of - pure dramatic syrup, bottled lightning - is coming out through your nostrils and making your eyelids whip like the wings of a moth. It kind of tickles a smidgeon and you giggly let it go on. Something is happening and it's better - much better - than the nothing that was just happening earlier. Dappled Cities -- the way they can sound like Bowie, Carey Mercer, medicine men and soothsayers - is a testament to the bargain they must have made with the spirits of loving grace or the distances without end.