When: Sat., Dec. 10, 9 p.m. 2016
Two years into its now decade-long existence, Le Weekend almost imploded.
The band originally convened and operated as a quintet, until the December 2008 release of its debut, Suite. Guitarist Ben Ridings and keyboardist Missy Thangs split after the album's release. That might have spelled the end, had Ridings and Thangs not urged the remaining members—guitarist Matt Kalb, bassist Bob Wall, and drummer Robert Biggers—to continue. None of Kalb's previous bands pulled through such a shift, and surviving that minor crisis, Kalb says, made Le Weekend into the band it is today.
"For whatever reason, that cemented in my mind the idea this particular band is the expression of what I want to do with music I write, which always ends up way better—and no longer simply mine—through the process of collaboration with Bob and Robert," Kalb says.
"From then on that process meant Le Weekend, and Le Weekend meant us."
Since paring down, Le Weekend has been one of the area's most consistently solid rock acts. Its songs are flush with melodic allure and sonic complexity, its melodic zig-zagging culminating in fractured pop songs that dip and dart like roller coasters. Its elliptical approach and gentle detours suggest a number of sonic hallmarks—Polvo's angular thrust, Arthur Russell's structural dexterity, Pele's proggy dexterity, Emperor X's erudite charm—and the advanced vocabulary that comes with innate familiarity.
"More and more, this stuff is parsed out after the fact, not as we're writing," Kalb says. "It just feels like the way the band has come to talk."
It Can't Be Youth, Le Weekend's latest LP, finds the band perfecting its intrinsic language. "Tw1st'n'pl0t" leaves the gate at full sprint, paced by Kalb's trilling hammer-ons and Biggers's heavy tom-tom accents, before it abruptly downshifts into its placid, cello-laden coda. "The Movies" cycles through a dozen moods, time signatures, and instruments across its four minutes: some marimba and acoustic guitar here, some cymbal-scraping noise there. The ideas come rapidly from left field, but they're not so disjointed as to sacrifice melody and hooks. Le Weekend's hairpin turns never seem forced; they're calm and natural, the product of a relaxed psychic rapport. In that sense, Kalb says, It Can't Be Youth is a document that, ten years in, comprises band's definitive musical statement.
"It can be daunting to pass a milestone like this," he says. "There's unhealthy temptation to compare what you've done to some vague idea of what you're supposed to have done by that point in time—which, in my case, can make me second-guess that happiness."
Le Weekend is ten years old and all of its members are over forty, Kalb concedes, but any semblance of a mid-life crisis for either doesn't seem at all to be a hindrance. Rather, it's a strength.
"Le Weekend is the best band to be in," he cracks, "So long as you're us.". —Patrick Wall