BEING THERE: No Other Tribute @ Union Transfer


The only thing I expected to be bitter about last night was the cold. Making trip from the suburbs to Union Transfer by SEPTA in below freezing temperatures seemed awful, but I soon found out that would be the warmest and most appealing part of my night. By the time I got to the line at UT, my fingers were frozen to the point of immobility, but I didn’t care. Seeing some of the most acclaimed indie bands of my generation — Beach House, The Walkmen, Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear —  performing Byrds frontman Gene Clark’s solo album No Other would definitely make up for the frigid trip there. I hardly knew anything about No Other besides how it sounded and that it was commercially unsuccessful. It didn’t seem like too far-fetched of an idea for a tribute, since the golden age of artists is often admired after their passing. The album didn’t seem spectacular to me, but I was sure that I’d find out the big deal once I saw the tribute.

By 8:30,  the scheduled show time, the house was completely full and getting antsy with no sign of our indie idols by 9:15. Before the music began, a clip from the 2013 Gene Clark documentary “The Byrd Who Flew Alone” was screened. I learned that Clark was greedy and consequently resented by The Byrds, had a history of physically lashing out at people and was not very well-read. No one interviewed for the the film seemed to know how he came up with such beautifully written lyrics for No Other. It was the opposite of inspiring.  After some obnoxious shouts from the crowd like “Beach House, we LOOOVVVEEE you!” it was clear to me that a large part of the crowd was probably not here for remembering the good ol’ days listening to Gene Clark.

When they finally took the stage, the indie all-star group performed the album, just as advertised, note for note, start to finish. It was interesting to hear the beautiful familiar voices of Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) and Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear), intertwined with the sounds of the 70s, but there wasn’t much more to it. Even the stage setting was underwhelming, with a white backdrop on which spinning white lights were projected.  It felt like a grown-up talent show, and it wasn’t going to get any better. Since Beach House was credited with the makings of the tribute I’ll just assume it was one of their glorified highdeas put into action, but even Victoria Legrand seemed bored at her own show. Ultimately, I felt duped into trying to find something special about No Other, and I don’t think any of the artists who performed last night have found it yet, either. — MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ