Review: Frog Eyes Schizophrenia Live

Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes music style has been referred to by critics as idiosyntric, bombastic and capable of creating an atmosphere of psychedelic unease. The band’s recording efforts certainly show elements of all those descriptions and more. Frog Eyes live adds another dimension to the very original sound that somehow emerges from the band’s unlikely home base of Victoria, British Columbia.

Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes

The average crowd at The Frequency in Madison was in for a treat tonight. Anytime you can be compared to Tom Waits, the Cramps and Nick Cave all rolled into one, you’re certainly going to draw the attention of eclectic indie fans around the world. Frog Eyes’ started the evening with pleasantries firmly in place. ““It’s a sincere fucking pleasure to be here playing music,” said Mercer. You know, just breaking the ice. The band’s repertoire was heavy on tunes from this year’s Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph, likely making their new record label Dead Oceans ecstatic. Stand outs for me were the aggressive “Lear in Love” and “The Sensitive Girls.” One thing about Frog Eyes, some of the songs tend to be lengthened in a live setting meandering into a schizophrenic haze that keeps your attention.

Frog Eyes tease you with soft angular guitar lines that abruptly change pace like an adrenalin rush with vocals that assault and caress you at the same time. As the song structures unravel right before your eyes, taking on an almost chaotic path to what can only be sure catastrophe; the lyrics and vocal tonal quality pull the runaway train back onto the tracks taking the listener on an addictive journey that yearns to be repeated.

Mercer seemed to be enjoying himself during the show, telling stories of his first trip to Madison when he was 19. “It was the first time I had ever been to an American college town and it made a big impression on me,” he said, launching into a wide breadth of material from Frog Eyes and various side projects. Another tale of a bad experience at a Madison hotel served as a comical intro to “Biloxi, In A Grove, Cleans Out His Eyes” by Blackout Beach, one of Mercer’s other projects. The dynamics of the four piece band revolve around Mercers punkified poetic warbling leaving just enough space for sporadic improvisation. Without leaving the stage, Frog Eyes launched into their final song, a pseudo encore of “A Flower in a Glove” and then disappeared into the night. A fucking pleasure indeed! 

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