Porcelain Raft at Schubas 9/12/2013

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Last month Mauro Remiddi released a new album as Porcelain Raft called Permanent Signal. I hadn’t really cared for his previous two efforts, last year’s Strange Weekend and the 2011 EP Gone Blind. In 2012 he toured with Youth Lagoon, and I saw a lot of similarities in the two. With the new album, Remiddi breaks free of that comparison and makes a more compelling album than I ever expected. He also opened up his act a little bit, touring as a trio this time around. To my amazement, I was really looking forward to the show last night.

And I wasn’t disappointed in the least. The setup seemed pretty simple-two keyboards joined together by a big box of wires with knobs all over the place. More knobs and pedals on the floor. A drum set with the biggest cymbal known to man and an electronic pad. I admit to being a little worried that it would sound TOO electronic, but that worry melted away pretty fast. In fact, when Remiddi strapped on the guitar and started playing, I thought he made for a pretty good frontman. I wish he could have done that all night, because there is a slight feeling of detachment when he has to face away from the audience to manipulate the music for the sound he needs.

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They opened with “Think Of The Ocean,” the first track on Permanent Signal. The sound at Schubas was excellent-bass was at a good level that didn’t overwhelm Remiddi’s voice. The drums were toward the front of the stage, which I normally hate, but the drummer did a good job of restraining himself and not getting too loud. Even on “Unless You Speak From Your Heart,” which has a lot going on, nothing was lost in the mix and you could hear everything really well.

There wasn’t much in the way of banter throughout the show. They said thank you a couple times and mentioned how nice the previous day had been in Chicago. That was basically it-song after song for about an hour without many breaks. A bunch of songs from the new record got played, which was great for me. I feel like the songs on Permanent Signal were written more with live performance in mind, and they all came off really well. They also played a new version of “Talk To Me,” from that first EP.

At the end of the show Remiddi left the stage, but the audience was cheering for more. He came back and said, “The truth is, we do have one more song. But we need your help.” He then asked everyone on the audience to join the band on stage. A good number made it up there, and everyone who was left on the floor crowded in the front. The song they played was “I Lost Connection.” It was a really sweet moment and I’m sure those on the stage felt they were witnessing an intimate performance that most audiences will never get.

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I enjoyed what I heard a lot. I think Remiddi is on the way to becoming a real force in the music world. Permanent Signal is more Antlers than Youth Lagoon, and that’s a great first step. I had no idea how talented he was as a musician until I watched him play a couple guitar parts and loop them on top of ten other things he was doing. It was the most impressed I’ve been by someone on stage since I saw Emily Wells do her thing at Schubas last year. They do an amazing amount of work for every song, and they make it seem effortless.

If you’d like to check out Permanent Signal, and I think you should, you can stream it on Spotify or pick it up on iTunes. The US tour continues through September and up to October 4th. Then they head out to Europe for a while. I’m sure they’ll be coming around again if you aren’t in a city they’re gonna hit on this go round. Keep up with the dates on Facebook.

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