with Papa M and the Swimmer
The Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA • April 3, 1999
For those of you that don’t know (and it is unfortunate that you don’t), Sam Prekop is the front man of the Sea and Cake. Sam has released a new recording under his own name, but with the help of some of his friends (one of which is also from S&C – Archer Prewitt). The album is very comparable to S&C, but has a bit more of a lounge feel. I was glad to hear that Sam had a full band with him on this tour. After such a bad let down with the Olivia Tremor Control show the night before, I needed this!
The show started with local artists the Swimmer. Appropriately enough, the Swimmer has a sound similar to that of Slint. With very detailed repetitious guitar licks, thought-out, random time changes, and vocals that define the term “emo-rock,” the Swimmer brought back memories for us and the artist following them, Papa M, a three-piece band with powerful punches and very truthful expressions. I will expect to be seeing a lot from the Swimmer, at least up here in New England.
Now, I am not sure why, but Papa M is the new name for David Pajo’s recorded project Aerial M. The only reason I can think of is the term “aerial” is widely used with other artists. Whatever name David chooses to go under, it will kick ass… just like his first band he was in, Slint. I don’t know if he used other musicians for the Aerial M recording, but he did choose to play alone for this live gig. In fact, it was a bit difficult to understand that he was ready to play, since he was just sitting in a chair in front of Sam Prekop’s band’s set. It looked as if there should have been more people on stage.
After he began to play, it sounded like there should have been more people on stage! With the use of some equipment that I promised I would not name, David’s performance was based on layering guitar sounds. Just him, his Fender Amp, Gibson guitar, and a pedal he re-named “it doesn’t matter,” and anyone would agree that he made you feel like you were in another world! It was very interesting to see an artist create such soundscapes with the use of a guitar. Although he did not play anything directly off the Aerial M record, it seemed that these pieces were rehearsed.
So like most Middle East shows, there was about a 45 minute wait for Sam to come onto stage… and that is really long when their equipment was already set up. With the audience lights set at a low dim, and a cool wash overlaying the band, Sam and his little orchestra just cruised right into the first track on the record, “Showrooms.” If you closed your eyes, you would have forgotten that you were in a scummy club and thought you were sipping on a Manhattan in some back alley joint somewhere in the East Village of New York. Ahhh, how nice!
I think Sam had the same thing in mind early in the evening, because when he talked to the crowd between songs, it was quite obvious he had a few to drink himself. But it never kept him from his cool. In fact, he seemed to slip away when they played. Similar to a baby sleeping, Sam seemed so happy to be in his word and to welcome you into it!
As for the music, yes, it was very similar to just listening to the album, and I am usually one to agree that that is boring, but Sam Prekop deserves a lot more respect then that. He has stuck to his style of songwriting and always given us a different groove to fall into. So to see and feel this live, well… you either get it or you just were not there.
So cool, so easy… so simple was the night. No one was there trying to impress anyone. Just a good listening to enjoy. And every band gave their fair share. This one will definitely go down as my first favorite show here in Cambridge.