(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Indie rock legends the Feelies, who updated the sound of the Velvet Underground and like their forebears, inspired a whole new generation of minimalist art-rock guitar bands in the late 1970s, bring their historic reunion tour to MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 8 p.m.
Noted for their influential blend of guitar-heavy minimalist indie rock, the Feelies influenced countless bands with a string of records that defined the 1980s post-punk/new wave sound. Formed in New Jersey in 1976, the Feelies gained quick notoriety in the New York club scene and were dubbed by the Village Voice as “The Best Underground Band in New York” as early as 1978.
After a 19-year hiatus the longest-serving members of the group reconnected in 2008, and ramped up to full speed playing live dates in the Northeast as well as writing and releasing new material. Jon Pareles of the New York Times describes the Feelies as “a garage band reimagined by mathematicians, a psychedelic band with no illusions, a folk-rock band hypnotized by repetition, a punk band for introverts.”
The band’s relentless club dates resulted in its debut album, Crazy Rhythms, in 1980, described by many as one of the decade’s greatest albums. This album was particularly important to the young band R.E.M., who cite the record as a heavy influence on their sound. After a six year break, the lineup shifted in the mid 1980s with Glenn Mercer (guitars, vocals), Bill Million (guitars, vocals), Dave Weckerman (percussion), Brenda Sauter (bass), and Stan Demeski (drums). This lineup released three classic records, The Good Earth (co-produced by Peter Buck of R.E.M.), Only Life, and Time for a Witness, which all received universal critical acclaim. In 1991 the band decided to stop playing (never officially “breaking up”) and separated on good terms.
With the band members keeping in touch and maintaining their friendship, it was just a matter of schedules aligning for a reunion to happen. Mercer elaborates on the carefree nature of coming back into the music world. “It doesn’t feel like we’re involved in the business side of it. It’s kind of back to that feeling we had when we were just doing it for fun really.”
The band has been avoiding extended tours, refreshed by the fact that they are playing shows that they truly want to play. Performances in this comeback were kicked off by an opening slot for admirers Sonic Youth at Battery Park in New York on July 4, 2008, followed by additional annual 4th of July celebrations at their favorite club Maxwell’s, in Hoboken, N.J., an acoustic performance at the Whitney Museum of Art, and an ATP performance featuring Crazy Rhythms performed in its entirety to name a few.
New songs started popping up in set lists, and rumors of a new Feelies record were surfacing. Rumors became reality, and the Feelies latest recording, Here Before, was released two decades after their 1991 demise on April 12, 2011. On the first track, “Nobody Knows,” Glenn Mercer sings, “Is it too late to do it again / Or should we wait another ten?” Fans and new listeners alike certainly appreciate the fact that they are playing songs from the past and present.