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Lincoln Center Festival: Zorn@60

Patrick Krief Leaves Ears Pounding at Bowery Electric

by Melanie Wong


Patrick Krief, the longtime guitarist of Montreal-based rock group The Dears, is currently on tour promoting his recent solo album, Hundred Thousand Pieces. Critics are raving about the album and it’s no wonder why: Krief’s venture is the utmost showing of his musical skills—composing, producing, mixing, and even laying nearly all of the tracks himself.

Unfortunately, the multitalented wonder’s live performance at the Bowery Electric last week was less impressive.

As a vocalist, Krief’s grasp of pitch and tonal projection were surprisingly weak; he was consistently flat and his lack of vocal presence made his gripping lyrics seem dull. The backing group as a whole, though, was cohesive and dynamic, while musically, Krief’s compositions conveyed real ingenuity.

Above all else, the most unfortunate aspect of the evening was the balance of sound (or rather, lack thereof). After the first few songs, almost the entire audience had escaped to the farthest corners of the back bar area, and with good reason: the music was so loud and distorted that remaining in the front stage area became unbearable.

Bowery Electric is a tiny venue the size of an East Village studio, with stone walls and wood floors. Nothing should ever—and I mean ever—reach volumes that loud in such a small and resonant space. At Krief’s beckoning, some audience members inched back toward the stage; however, their energy for the remainder of the show was lifeless and apathetic.

The best part of the show actually turned out to be the opening band, My Pet Dragon. Lead singer Todd Michaelsen’s vocals were strong as he belted out his edgy soft-rock tunes. With heartfelt lyrics, catchy melodies that never became trite, and a pleasantly comfortable stage presence, Michaelsen and his duo partner Reena Shah are entertainers with real potential.

It was a shame, really, to watch Krief’s artistry go unappreciated, but a word of advice to all performers: make sure that during your sound check, you actually check your sound. It was quite obvious during the brief sound check that heavy distortion was going to be likely, and a seasoned performer such as Krief should have known better than to allow that possibility to become a reality.

His blunder caused irreparable damage to the evening, creating an aural experience that I hope never to repeat.