Concert Review: Cigarettes After Sex @ Boulder Theater

After a little wait in a light drizzle and the confiscation of my two hidden beers (hey, why not try), I was more than ready for Cigarettes After Sex’s first Boulder show to turn me around, and take me into that dreamy bedroom pop haze. An hour after doors opened, I got inside and pushed my way to the front, eager to let the sweet and sultry sounds of lead singer Greg Gonzalez’s voice charm me into lighting up just one more – I’ll quit after the next show.

But there I waited for forty five minutes, $7 beer from the bar in hand, with no local act or even touring opener to kick things off. How much were these tickets again?

But that’s okay – I really love Cigarettes After Sex. Even if I did have to pay twenty bucks, and get my beer confiscated (only myself to blame there), and miss a local friend’s EP release at the final show of 1190 affiliate label First Base Tapes’ Glove World venue. It was all going to be worth it when those first few lyrics rang out with that downbeat bass: “Whispered something in your ear…”

Finally, the fog machine was pushed to eleven and the band came out to play. No introductions or hellos. Cue bass, let’s go.

The first song ended. Eight beats of silence (two measures for those counting), and on to the next. Gonzalez seemingly detached, and the rest of the band so far back in the thick fog, I can’t actually confirm to you they were really there – they could’ve been ghosts. For songs portraying such intimacy, it became hard to connect with the detached singer and his ethereal band in a group of hundreds of people crowded together too close to sit, with music too slow to dance to.

Maybe Gonzalez knows he’s hit all the right chords with this stuff – his stuff has been near perfection in the genre since the beginning. But he plays it with the tiniest bit of disdain, perhaps knowing the tracks are beyond any real reproach. He and his songs do what they set out to do. But that’s all. They hit the mark, nothing more. There was no Affection in it, despite the track’s presence third on the lineup. Gonzalez sings,

It’s affection always,
You’re gonna see it someday My attention for you
Even if it’s not what you need

Maybe it’s telling his former lovers couldn’t feel his affection. I couldn’t feel it even after ponying up twenty bucks for the privilege of experiencing it.

But it was good. I enjoyed it. Yes – beautiful, ambient, dream pop stuff. Scratches the right itch for me. However, next time the itch comes, I’ll stay in bed and close my eyes. Some things work better as dreams in the dark.

By Branton DeMoss