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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Books play the Majestic Theatre

 It is rather pretentious to state that no two experiences are entirely alike. The fact that commensurate experiences are incredibly difficult to generate is inherent to life—it is part of the human condition. But there are moments that transcend this, moments that ask you to examine each individual moment of your life with a quantitative scientific precision. Monday night at the Majestic, The Books provided one of those moments.

            The Books are known for their reflective audio collages that breathe life into seemingly inane sound bites. For this, it's safe to say they are more artists than musicians. Through the course of three studio albums, Thought for Food, The Lemon of Pink and Lost and Safe, The Books have let us peer into their world steeped in sincere nostalgia and their own pack-rat philosophy. They prove we can always make something new by making critical juxtapositions, smashing two ideas together so that something totally new comes out. By finding meaning in other people's refuse, Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong seem to be asking us to look at our own lives to see what we are missing, and the live Books experience is an extension of this.

While the show does lack some of the rhythmic intensity that is so prevalent on the records, it compensates by adding a highly complimentary visual component (both Zammuto and de Jong sit during their performance). The awkwardly literary aspect of their music lends itself nicely to the accompanying visuals, which they create with the same quirky qualities of their music. The show opened with a track off of their upcoming release featuring sound bites and visuals of people in hypnotherapy tapes. As each person spoke about their own experiences with hypnotherapy, they introduced the audience to a wide range of emotions that aren't always achieved in a normal day. But this is the beauty of The Books and their attention to the tension of life and emotion—they have the ability to stir empathy and earnest laughter in the same song.

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            The far-too-brief set was dedicated mostly to new material written in a similar style. They did touch on some old favorites—the jangly guitars in ""That Right Ain't Shit"" were a pleasant surprise, while an unenthusiastic version of ""Take Time"" lacked its usual drive and vocal focus but atoned for it with an upbeat visual highlight of simple joys. For the new material, instead of using tapes from answering machines like they had in the past, they scoured tapes from the ""Home Alone"" inspired Talkboys and film footage from old home videos found at thrift stores. For a band like The Books, song selection isn't a concern, considering that sample-based sing-alongs are pretty much impossible, but they still manage to create a comparatively commensurate experience through their media melding.

            In the end, The Books' show leaves you questioning many things about art and intention, but mostly it leaves questions about human experience. By giving us this experience, The Books give us a chance to be totally introspective, something we definitely do not take enough time to do anymore. As each smile glances across the screen and each abstract moment passes by with added gravity, you sit and wonder what you were paying attention to in the past and if it was really worth it.




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