Television / Calexico / Trans Am: Asturias Gijon Festival

Television follow up their storming performance at All Tomorrow's Parties, and Calexico promote new single...

Having already caused a storm in other Iberian parts (Barcelona’s Sala Apolo and in the capital Madrid), the Trans Am trio takes to the stage and wrenches a few breaths away with twelve meaty numbers – in the large part from their last studio effort, ‘Red Line’.

Released on Chicago’s Thrill Jockey, but hailing from Washington D.C., Trans Am is here to mix up as many sonic genres as it does U.S. scenes. Tonight, Nathan Means (keyboards, bass, vocals and spiral-eyes), Sebastian Thomson (more keyboards, basses and fringes) and Phil Manley (drums) kick up dust in Gijon’s dusky weekender with pumping, pulsating numbers like ‘Porcelain’, or the raunchy ‘Lamplight’ and ‘Fear Of Falling’. With two on the vocals and two basses in action, the ‘Am could headline a small festival like this, with well-received rousing rock-tronica and frenzied beats all over the place.

As the dust settles, Calexico‘s Joey Burns and Jon Convertino (swamped by an ensemble of neo-countrians on upright-bass, flat guitar and accordion) rev up their well-worn dragster of southern rhythms and Mexican-spiced balladeering. Last year’s ‘Hot Rail’ gets a good airing with ‘Ballad Of Cable Hogue’ and ‘Service & Repair’ among them. The epic ‘Minas De Cobre’ (a ride through trumpet county on a steel guitar) and ‘The Crystal Frontier’ (the new single) close the 74-minute set before the crowd starts getting restless. It’s waiting for those shadowy figures on the wings to step out for all (the thousand-or-so film fans here) to see.

These said figures are, in fact, no less dark and shadowy when illuminated on the stage. Tom Verlaine is there for all to (just about) make out and hail as the lord of Television, of all dark electro-rock. His leathered presence is both overwhelming and even a little perplexing. “What’s he doing here?” quizzes Trans Am’s Nathan. “Are they still going/alive?” No one is sure of either, but the truth is that they are here, on-stage and looking like they’re even going to play something.

They try to remember how to play a few odd ones from early, mid and late period Television and also some in the vein of Tom’s film scoring stuff. For this short reunion tour, Television are definitely just back to show us how it’s done, this sombre live music lark. Just flexing a few finger muscles. Television came here off the back of the All Tomorrow’s Parties weekend, and now they’re heading off for a final New York date and back to the dark beyond. We may not see them – or their likes – again for a long time.

James Pearse