On Monday 18th February, Stergin’s WINDOW FARM took to the stage in Rattlesnake’s live music area to perform a range of new material to small yet devoted and excitable crowd. They transported us away to a bizarre world, bringing a myriad of strange sounds and ideas with them. Despite the lack of a bass drum (to be honest we didn’t really miss it) they pushed through a charming and enjoyable set, involving the audience at every opportunity.
Opening the set with a solo guitar interlude, the members of the bend eventually made their way to the stage. The opening number was discordant and slightly difficult on the ear. However as the song progressed, it moved into an infectiously quirky groove that stuttered along. This combined with some cheeky cut aways (often to instrumental licks), finally brought the song into focus and gave it some shape. Not the song I would have chosen as an opener but it certainly got the crowds attention.
Next was “Jack & Jill”, a wonderful take on the nursery rhyme with staccato string snippets scattered throughout. A sightly more mainstream sound, but still retaining the odd twist and swerve in the rhythms. The next number brought cross rhythms, some gorgeous harmonies but a slightly ambiguous ending. During the next number, a strange figure walked onto stage with no explanation as to why he was there. This left us confused.
“Who Are You?” had the crowd giggling like children as balloons were handed out and we were asked to blow them up. What ensued was a call and response play along, featuring the sound of a whiny, slowly deflating balloon. In the finale, everyone’s wish came true. We were asked to let the balloons go and in a whirlwind of fart noises, balloons flying everywhere, with the audience in childlike hysterics cheering and clapping, the band wrapped up the song.
“You Are Such A Mess” saw three members of the band branch out into the audience, a trait continued in what was truly the highlight of the entire evening, “Human Being”. Around the room, the band perched on railings and stools playing bells and singing along with the solo guitar. The basic pretense of the song was a set phrase, stated as a verse. The phrase words were then reorganized in each subsequent verse to the same melody, dispersed by periods of truly gorgeous harmony from the toy bells. The sweetness of the bell chimes, together with a gorgeous vocal harmony created an air of innocence. This was by far their best song of the entire night, it’s simplicity mixed with the sweetness of the sound was absolutely charming.
By this point in the set the guy who had made his way onto the stage earlier in the night seemed to have no purpose. “Frank” finally explained his reasoning for being there, as he told the story of a man with a backwards face (I should explain he was dressed back to front to font). This was a strange song, funny and entertaining, and at the same time so much of a contrast to what had preceded it. There were several sing along sections where the character gyrated on stage, some truly stunning moves. The set ended with a rendition of Chris Brown’s “Don’t Wake Me Up”. So different from the original, it had a relaxed feel which wrapped up the set nicely, leaving an alarm clock ringing as the band exited the stage.
On the one hand you could simply say that this band is experimenting and pushing themselves beyond the clique of ‘the 4 piece folk group’, but they have achieved so much more. By bringing a childlike enthusiasm and a willingness to embrace those sounds we all secretly miss (like a whiny deflating balloon), they have tapped into their audience’s minds and filled it with sweet harmony and a quirkiness not easily forgotten. A few members of the audience I noticed, even left singing snippets of “Human Being”. I left with a spring in my step with the sweet sound of bells ringing in my ears. Their energy and enthusiasm in the more upbeat numbers is clear, yet they also have an ability to pul it right back to such a relaxed state almost instantaneously.
A sound world for the open minded is how I would describe it. If you can let go of some of the preconceptions you have about popular music, it’s structure and seriousness, you are in for a real treat. Don’t expect to turn up and hear pretty music for an hour, the constant quirks and twists throughout most of the songs have your ears and mind constantly refocusing on the sound world.
Definitely a band to watch! Their potential to bring something new to the ears of London is huge, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the public will fall in love with them. Their set is still under development and does need work, like any band they are always moving forward and progressing. One day they will finally crack the formula and all the elements will fit together to make a truly great musical experience. A definite must see!!!
Stergin’s WINDOW FARM is made up of Vinzenz Stergin, Andrew Gorman, Nora Jenewein and James Greenfield. Also featuring Jason Wilkinson as “Frank”.
Check out their track “Human Being” here.
For more information please visit http://www.stergin.com/web/.