No one wants to see a show where everyone onstage is standing motionless behind a keyboard. For years, electronic-music acts have struggled with different ways to address this — with varying levels of success. They’ve tried putting live musicians onstage, even when they don’t technically need them. They’ve tried putting robots onstage. They’ve tried dancers and elaborate stage sets. At the pop end of the electronic-music spectrum, this often leads to concerts where a starlet lip-synchs to a recording while frantically shaking her body through choreographed routines that are half strip-club and half gym workout. At the more avant-garde end, it leads to a band like Fischerspooner.
A collaboration between classically trained musician Warren Fischer and experimental dramatist Casey Spooner, Fischerspooner performs with as many as 20 people onstage. They’ve been known to feature chorus girls spitting blood, feathered headdresses, tear-away costumes, and some heavy-
duty choreography. (And, yes, there’s some lip-synching, too.) For the current tour, the band has worked out a routine it says is inspired by vaudeville and Japanese Kabuki. Does all this overshadow the music? To some extent it does. But what about the sweat and screaming and dangerous swinging of guitars that goes on at a more traditional rock concert? Doesn’t that sometimes overshadow the music, too?
In fact, Fischerspooner’s music stands up to scrutiny quite well, whether onstage or on recording. The new album Entertainment has all the skittering drums, squelchy synth bursts, and dance-floor bass you might expect from an electronic act, but it also has real songs — songs that are tied together by something more than a compelling rhythm. But they’ve got compelling rhythms, too. The stage show only helps.
FISCHERSPOONER: House of Blues, Wednesday, May 20, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $17.50