On The Rise: Nice Nice
Being by nature a (perhaps too-)skeptical dude, it’s rare I come in cold to a show and walk out evangelizing like a babbling street preacher. Some quick background: a month ago I ended a five-year stint living in San Francisco, where you can pretty well trip over a lauded touring act every night of the week. With no shortage of excellent artists strolling through town, it’s rare I’d end up in a situation where I could count myself among the truly uninitiated listeners at a given show. But when I moved back home for a transitory month in Sacramento with the ‘rents, I flipped into Jesus-Christ-I’m-going-to-suffocate-if-I-don’t-get-out-of-the-house mode, and when Caleb and Kyle, literally the only two people I knew in this city, separately recommended that I hit up a downtown gallery for a Thursday night show, I was doing 85 down the freeway about three minutes later, giddy at the prospect of an evening out.
I didn’t even know what I was excited for, but when you expect exactly nothing from a show, it magnifies your capacity for being completely blown away. Nice Nice is a two-piece recently signed to the inhumanly clairvoyant Warp Records (you guys are killing it right now), and their philosophy can be described thusly: a) use about a hundred different instruments and b) destroy your loop pedal. Much like Fuck Buttons, their tracks build in a multiplicative fashion, where new layers stack and stack and stack until they reach an exotic and swamped climax. Unlike Fuck Buttons – who lean on a decidedly computerized palette to manufacture pulsing, otherworldly trances – Nice Nice is a firestorm of natural sound. Two bars of a shaker here, two more of a tambourine there, four of a guitar and a drumline, with some of those twisted electronics on top – each track is compacted into a momentous rush of energy, and it builds just about as fast as you can take the sensory rush. And it’s strange – I almost like this overload more than their (perhaps more carefully composed) recorded material, because it barrels toward noisy energy like nothing else in the world matters. Then again, as with the few bands who’ve stuck with me after a single show, I’ll most likely come to discover the intricacies of their record 10, 20, 50 plays deep.
These live discoveries are special to me, because it reminds me that I don’t need to be so fucking uptight and snooty about how I digest music – how it shouldn’t be necessary for acts to be vetted by a myriad of “trusted” sources before I’ll give it a chance. Sure, when you’re the very first filter for the music you hear, you come across a bunch of shit. But when you find a truly impressive act this way, they ascend to a sort of magical plane. I was so impressed by the Sacramento affair that I planned a trip back to San Francisco around another one of their shows this past Friday at the Mezzanine. None of the excitement eroded for me this time around – it was every bit as busy, exotic and overwhelming as the first pass, only this time I got to hear my friend say “this is so rad!” every thirty seconds in my ear. Yeah, I had hyped her up for the set, but I really think that Nice Nice’s energy is freakishly contagious. Look for them to rock your town on their coming tour. And if you can - this really might help you out - forget everything this review just said, and roll into those doors without a damn expectation in the world. That feeling when you leave a few hours later - that's as close to bliss as you'll ever come.