In many ways, things have never been better for music fans. Heard about a new band and you want to check them out? If you go on YouTube, you can probably find video of them in concert, filmed by someone with a cell phone at last night’s show. Wow! Now you know what they look like and sound like! Now you can go to one of their shows and stand there the whole time, looking at the band through your own phone! That’s right, you can go out and it will feel just like staying home and watching the band on your computer!
There’s a lot to love about music today, but one thing it is missing is mystery. That’s why it’s fun to have a band like Los Angeles’ Fol Chen, whose members deliberately obscure their identities. In concert, they have appeared wearing masks or raccoon-like makeup. Their publicity photos show them in silhouette or with their faces hidden. Instead of posting biographical information, their record label, Asthmatic Kitty, instead posts letters from the band’s purported leader, Samuel Bing (who may or may not be a real person), and cryptic missives that say, “We think we know Fol Chen. But we do not.” The band’s website is even more enigmatic.
Over the past couple of years, this secretive group has released two albums and a couple of EPs, all in a minimalist electro-pop style — although that description hardly does justice to the shape-shifting and mind-screwing of songs such as “No Wedding Cake” from the 2009 album Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made. Last year’s follow-up, Part II: The New December only deepened the mystery.
FOL CHEN: Soda Bar, Friday, February 11, 9 p.m. 619-255-7224. $8, $10.