As soon as they started their set on March 11 at the Echo, Atlas Sound made it clear that they wouldn’t be replicating the bedroom techno of their debut record, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel (Kranky). The band — — the side project of Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox — plowed right into a shambolic and loud rendition of album standout “Cold as Ice,” leaving behind the electronic noodling and erecting a wall of noise in its stead. The songs were recognizable, but they were completely different animals. As the song grinded to a halt, Cox joked that they were “a little quick with that getting-on-the-stage thing” and apologizes for the messy sound. None of us in the crowd were complaining.
Cox’s goofy, friendly stage demeanor is totally disarming and charming. Before the band ambled into the Pet Sounds-like shoegaze of “Bite Marks,” he kicked it off with a terse announcement: “Here’s another song.” Later they launch into what becomes a bouncing string of bastardized songs from the album. On record, the sonic collage of Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel has a very personal feel, but out in the open and fleshed out with a few more musicians the songs feel big and public and inclusive.
This was the last night of the tour, and the band pushed its limits, in a good way. During a breath of dead air, guitarist White Rainbow (the solo ambient project of Adam Forkner, who plays lead for Atlas Sound on stage and acts as opener) started a jam that slowly transformed into Pavement’s “Here,” from Slanted and Enchanted, and the grins in the crowd quickly spread. At that point, Cox introduces the band and everyone does a little solo, and we even get a little scatting from Forkner. With that foray into Spinal Tap territory, the band wiggles into “Scraping Past” and leaves us on a resounding high note.