Architecture in Helsinki Revs Up Crowd

Maureen Ohara 3

It's a strange thing to attend a concert with an extremely appreciative audience that loves the band, but doesn't appear to know any of their songs.

That was the impression, at least, at the Architecture in Helsinki show at Webster Hall Thursday night, when we asked several wildly bopping concertgoers what song the band was currently playing. Three shrugged nonchalantly. One girl — in between shoulder shakes — was a bit more apologetic. "Yeah, I don't really know the last album," she said, then flipped her hair back and forth.

(That album would be Moment Bends, which dropped last month to, as the scene suggests, mixed critical reviews.)

So why such ardor and rambunctious dancing?

For one, Architecture in Helsinki are really good live. The Australian eight-piece is not above wacky synchronized dancing and gymnastics on stage to rile up the crowd. It worked.

Second, the band commands a loyal following from its native countrymen, as evidenced by the number of shaggy-haired blokes and girls in sundresses who came out in droves to see one of their country's most popular acts rock New York.

Given this, it might be easy to dismiss Architecture in Helsinki as just another band carved from that Australian oeuvre of pop — slightly hipstery, slightly strange, prone to hand-gesturing and heavy synths. But the group had hit the mainstream well before the Cut Copys and Midnight Juggernauts, carving out a niche territory of nonsensical, instrument-heavy, elated music with David Byrne-vocals since the early '00s.

They showcase considerable breadth, as in during vocalist Kellie Sutherland's blithey bizarre anthem "Hold Music" — a song that would do well on the children's show "Yo Gabba Gabba." She followed with the pure '80s ballad, "The Beep."

And by the time lead singer Cameron Bird returned to the mic, trademark Eraserhead haircut flopping about, to perform crowd favorites "Contact High" and "B4 3D" — we frankly didn't care much about the song titles either.


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