The Avalanches: Tumbling down

THE AVALANCHES | Mark Thompson photos

The Avalanches were supposed to appear at last year’s festival but cancelled at the last minute, so their showing up this year was a big deal, and Smash made sure they were situated prominently on the Green Stage in the middle of Saturday afternoon, traditionally the busiest day of the event. Unfortunately, this year it was also the wettest day of the event, and while the Green Stage was well attended, there was a soppy, drenched quality to the proceedings.

There was also mystery, and thus some surprise. Given that the two album released by the group—16 year apart, no less—are sample driven and derived, no one know exactly what to expect from the “act,” and thus it was interesting to see six people run out on stage. Of course, the two core members of the band, producer Robbie Chater and multi-instrumentalist Tony Di Blasi—were first and foremost. But who was this female drummer and this rapper and this stylish front woman/female vocalist? Apparently, they are simply the current touring incarnation of The Avalanches.


After that, the crowd could hardly care, because they played all the hits, only in a live group format, with Eliza Wolfgramm handling all the female vocals and Spank Rock handling all the rapping. Though there was some differentiation between the original versions (derived from genuine 45s) and those produced by this lineup, the audience didn’t seem to mind because the show was propulsive and positive.


They knew that people were here to dance, regadless of the weather, and they satisfied that desire to the fullest. Occasionally, Wolfgramm’s interpretation faile the original, like on the sample for “Guns of Brixton” and the seminal single “Because I’m Me,” fell short of the original, but the rest of the band make up for the distinction with a rocking beat and a devil-may-care attitude.  Though it wasn’t as inspired as the Gorrilaz show the night before, it was just as beatastic.

“Thank you for coming to see us in the rain,” Wolfgramm said at the end of the show, glowing with gratitude. These people, she should understand, know how to party.