It seems indie rock drummer-for-hire Janet Weiss may never quite escape her involvement with Stephen Malkmus. The support act for tonight’s gig do an admirable version of late-period Pavement, and the venue plays Slanted & Enchanted as warm-up for the main act.
The former husband wife duo have been performing and recording as Quasi for 16 years, yet still they’re more famous for Weiss’s role with Malkmus’s The Jicks. The band have never felt like a main act, instead always a much loved side project. Maybe it’s their chosen genre of psychedelic jazzy blues, but it seems they may never get the attention they properly deserve.
Tonight’s show mainly highlights tracks from the recent Domino album American Gong, and it all feels cosy and a tad familiar. Frontman Sam Coomes is a charming and lively entertainer whose awkward stage presence serves him well within such a small venue. But many of the audience seem to have come to the gig for a chance to ogle the admittedly beautiful yet intense Weiss who, as well as playing with Quasi and The Jicks, pounded skins in the much missed Sleater Kinney.
Indeed she is an alluring prospect, nimbly pounding out unnatural rhythms and nonchalant beats almost by accident. Newish member Joanna Bolme, also of The Jicks, adds even more feminine magic to what can be on record a macho affair. Adding much needed bass guitar to what once felt spartan and rickety, she fleshes out and adds depth to the live numbers. Playing to a crowd eager to hear old material, they manage to charm the masses with the odd oldie whilst still pleasing recent converts with newer tracks such as Repulsion and Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler.
Ultimately Quasi are not a band willing to dip their toes in any old genre to win over new fans, and that is what has kept them going as an interesting prospect. You won’t find them being remixed by Spank Rock or duetting with Tinchy Stryder any time soon. In fact they seem to have lost a little of the fiery political polemic that ran through the gigs showcasing the Hot Shit album, and are now somewhat earnest.
Not that this is in any way a bad thing; they’ve progressed their brand of intellectual indie stomp organically and onstage have a calmness and ease that subdues any potential naysayers. As a lyricist Coomes may not rival Malkmus in terms of stream-of-conscious nonsense, but he revels in writing of the twisted side of love and romance. How Weiss feels about some of his choice verses is so far unknown.