Bradford Cox Vs. Red Bull at Neumos

Rock stars and their corporate benefactors being mortal enemies, Bradford Cox devoted a considerable amount of his stage banter last night at Neumos to unflattering musings about Red Bull, which was hosting Cox as part of something called the Sound Select Series.

When he was 19 years old, he worked at a photo studio, the kind that parents take their kids to for portraits with the Easter Bunny and what not. He and his boss smoked opium, and when they started to nod, his boss ordered Cox to go get a case of Red Bull.

“Red Bull and opium don’t mix,” Cox told the crowd last night. “The children were frightened.”

Later, after emitting a manic howl, Cox said he was “the hangover you get after drinking Red Bull.”

All this was done in a British accent (Cox is from Georgia), in a mop-top wig and sunglasses. A man in the crowd repeatedly shouted “Liam Gallagher” at Cox, because Cox kind of looked like he was dressed up as Liam Gallagher.

As for the portion of the show devoted to music (I’d call it a 60/40 split between music and banter), this was one for the super-fans. While performing under the Atlas Sound moniker, Cox played alone, his Marfan Syndrome frame folded onto a wooden stool. His right leg would lash out at his pedals at the beginning of songs, over and over again until he’d gotten enough loops going to achieve an incredibly full sound. Every song was a slow drone, an opioid without a Red Bull chaser. Some of the songs sounded familiar, others Cox claimed to be making up on the spot. When lyrics could be discerned, they were striking: “There’s a lot of water wasted/trying to milk the desert/trying to make those cactus flowers/come up leather.”

Back to Red Bull: as the reps explained it to me before the show (full disclosure, the spotted me a couple Red Bull vodkas while they did so), the Sound Select series model is to bring in notable acts like Atlas Sound in and then work with some locals (in this case Sub Pop) to fill out the bill with bands that deserve some exposure. Tickets are offered at steeply discounted prices to ensure a packed house; those who RSVPed to last night’s show paid $3; others paid $12. The Red Bull peeps say it will be a monthly thing.

The model seemed to have worked in getting people out for the local bands: opening acts Pollens (a very happy and harmonic crew), Pony Time and Tacocat (“it’s a palindrome”) all had bigger audiences than Cox had by the end. I’m not sure when people started falling off, but the room was far from full by the time Cox called it quits. Taking a request from the audience (not the guy yelling Liam Gallagher), Cox closed with Deerhunter’s “Agoraphobia.” He then stood on stage and chatted with a clutch of fans who came up to thank him. One guy told him his friend has agoraphobia. “He can’t leave the house.” Cox said that was terrible, not in a British accent.

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