Brooklyn's Oxford Collapse, Looking Good in '80s Casual

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Seasoned observers watching Oxford Collapse's set at the Rock & Roll Hotel Monday night must've taken a quick glance at the calendar -- sure enough, 1987 was 20 years ago. But the Brooklyn trio was convulsing through a set of tunes that owed almost everything to what indie rockers two decades back were digging: the jittery pull of Mike Watt's post-Minutemen trio Firehouse, the pastoral rush of the Feelies' second album, the bittersweet choruses of late-period Husker Du, and maybe even "Document," R.E.M.'s last independent gasp.

Bassist Adam Rizer, guitarist Mike Pace and drummer Dan Fetherston's rumpled look was pure '80s indie, too, as was their offhanded stage manner (they quoted "Back to the Future," for gosh sakes) and lyrical abstruseness. It was hard to say just what songs like "Loser City," "Prop Cars" or "Molasses" were about, exactly, but they sure got the boys worked up.

And if "Please Visit Your National Parks" wasn't concerned with anything more than the scintillating tangle of Pace's burrowing riff and Rizer's hyper upper-register runs for three minutes, then so be it: Focus hardly mattered. Oxford Collapse was monumentally shambolic: They missed changes, played most of their songs too fast, leapt off the drum riser, jumped into the audience, thanked the other bands on the bill too many times, botched notes and couldn't stay still long enough to sing into the microphone. In short, they were awesome.

-- Patrick Foster

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