ARTS

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May 12, 2006

Elefant charms audience in spite of—or because of—eccentric lead singer

I first saw Elefant in New Orleans almost a year ago. At the time they were opening for Jimmy Eat World and playing songs off of their debut album, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid. Having never heard of them, I was immediately surprised at the quality of some of their songs and equally surprised at how bad others were in comparison. Elefant is a feast-or-famine type of band.

As the opening act, they played only five songs. In that time, lead singer Diego Garcia slowly took off his jacket and threw it into the audience, in an absolutely hilarious attempt at crowd seduction. Trying to hold back laughter, I was barely able to catch their closing number, “Misfit.”

It was lucky that I did, though. By the end, I was immediately hooked on Elefant. In a year’s time, Elefant released The Black Magic Show, a darker sophomore album, and are now touring as headliners. But not much else has changed. “Misfit” is still their best song, and the lead singer is still hysterical live.

I guess before I start talking about the actual show, I should explain what I mean by calling The Black Magic Show a “darker” album. Well, first of all, the name is a perfect fit for the sound. Most of the songs possess a deep, droning beat that could be placed into the background of a horror film with ease. The music also bangs you over the head with its simplicity and consistency. Even the songs with less of a monotone are still eerie and kind of creepy. For instance, “The Clown” sounds like satanic circus music.

One of the few bright spots on the album is “Uh Oh Hello.” Played as the penultimate song during Tuesday’s show at the Metro, “Uh Oh Hello,” which was an enjoyable tune on CD, was even better live. The other songs off their new album were really just filler. I found myself standing still for far too much of the concert, waiting for them to go back to tracks off of Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid.

But even when the music took a turn for the worse, Garcia was always there to lift my spirits. OK. Imagine a tall guy with dark, oddly styled hair who can’t dance, doesn’t play an instrument, wears a metrosexualized Canadian tuxedo, and prances around the stage acting like he’s not only a giant rock star but a sex symbol as well.

The guy was the funniest thing I have ever seen. See, he doesn’t play a guitar, so when there isn’t any singing to be done, he often lies onstage or stands near the drummer and bassist, bothering them while they try to play. These are just his most common activities, though. Once, he got on all fours and started to rub the floor. Another time, he squatted inches from the crowd and raised his hand in the air—almost like the Queen of England, when she does that awkward wave thing that makes her hand look like a rotating satellite dish. Basically, he was the biggest narcissist and metrosexual I have ever seen.

All this said, Elefant still put on a good show. I laughed for more than half the show and even shook a leg or two during “Misfit”—once again, the closer—and the title track off of Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid. Although it isn’t their most-liked, the song Elefant played best has to be “Bokkie,” my new favorite tune. The guitar chimes a sweet little jingle, backed by some solid bass playing. The lyrics aren’t even as bad as those of most of their other songs.

I doubt anyone reading this is going to be headed to an Elefant concert anytime soon, but if you have a dollar to spare on iTunes—that is, if you aren’t still pirating music—download “Bokkie,” or maybe even “Misfit.” And then next time Elefant comes to Chicago, you might be inspired to go see the indie band with the world’s most ridiculous lead singer.