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Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday's Pick: Wolf Parade, Moools, Zola Jesus

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 7:30 AM

Zola Jesus' Nika Roza Danilova - INDRA DUNIS
  • Indra Dunis
  • Zola Jesus' Nika Roza Danilova

Wolf Parade

Moools

Zola Jesus
8 p.m., $27.50

Hipster Goth: it might seem like an oxymoron to anyone with even a dim awareness of pre-millennial subcultures, but believe us, it's real. In local circles, it may mean dancing to swoony shadowland disco and depressive '80s post-punk between impeccably (over-) dressed scenemakers during Club Shutter at the Elbo Room. Or perhaps nodding darkly along with freeze-dried beats, minimal synth arpeggios, and retro electronic churnings at the Knockout's Nachtmusik (pka Tenebrae) monthly event. And while those are both relatively underground happenings, tonight Hipster Goth meets the Indie Big Time when Zola Jesus takes the grandiose Fox stage.

Zola Jesus (essentially vocalist/songwriter Nika Roza Danilova and associates) has scored accolades in surprisingly mainstream places like Paste, Nylon, and Vogue, despite what is -- or, at least until very recently, was -- considered highly unfashionable music. On a Zola Jesus recording, broken keyboards, wispy ambient whooshes, and dusty phantom cries hover above drumbeats that sound like the thwacking of a tack hammer on some distant wall, while Danilova's throaty, floating, occasionally operatic voice echoes in mourning for an unseen lover. It's easy to imagine any given Zola Jesus song sneaking onto 4AD Records' genre-defining 1980s compilation, Lonely Is an Eyesore. Cult writer/graphic novelist Warren Ellis even described her as "a beautiful ghost moaning from the shadows of a bombed-out cathedral"; Gustave Doré couldn't have etched a better image of gothness personified.

Normally one wouldn't expect hipsters to admit liking something so seemingly custom-made for outcasts and mockery magnets who decorate their apartments-slash-abattoirs with cobwebs and dead roses. Fifteen years ago, Zola Jesus opening for Wolf Parade in 2010 would have been as unimaginable as Switchblade Symphony opening for Modest Mouse in 1995. And yet the tastemakers are nevertheless into it. "Everyone's a goth now. It blows my mind," Danilova told one interviewer. "If goth is trendy, then I'm buying fucking polo shirts." Sorry, Nika: the hipsters are already going there, too. Hipsterism will devour everything. Even goth. But then what are hipsters, after all, if not the ultimate vampires?

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John Graham

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