Real Estate: Real Refreshing

This was originally published in The Water Tower, a weekly satirical paper based in Burlington, VT.

Put on your most flattering pair of Levi’s, your grandpa’s suede shoes, a button down shirt and some retro-looking spectacles, and join me as we melt into the giant puddle of lo-fi indie love, otherwise known as – Real Estate. We will explore the complexities and vast inner-workings of Matthew Mondanile’s somewhat neurotic and uncomfortable facial expressions, and also unmask the true meaning behind Martin Courtney’s overwhelming disinterest in pretty much everything.

I must admit, I didn’t see Real Estate just for the sake of seeing Real Estate. It was The Babies – Real Estate’s opening band – that caught my eye. Have you heard of Woods? And Vivian Girls? Of course you have! Well you, my friend, are in for a treat. I present to you, the Ultimate Recipe For Greatness: one part angel face – Kevin Morby, one part resident rock star – Cassie Ramone, makes twelve servings of heaven. I must admit, the crowd seemed a little weary at first – especially the wild pack of 14 year-old girls standing next to me (since when were they allowed in Higher Ground?) – but they eventually came to their senses and began head-bobbing to Cassie’s riffs. Gurl Power.

The lack of appreciation for The Babies undoubtedly stemmed from the crowd’s adoration for Real Estate, the band they paid all of $12 dollars to see. Real Estate History 101 commences – the lead singer went to some college in Washington State, he and his high school buddies played together under various names throughout high school, something about a tape deck, and there you have it. Real Estate released their first self-titled album back in 2009 and just recently came out with Days this summer – as you can imagine, the second album is largely considered much more ‘sophisticated’ and ‘dynamic’ than the first, but in my humble opinion, it also lacks an honest aesthetic appeal that I tend to crave more often than not.

However, their live perfomance, I must admit, was for the most part impeccable. Lead guitarist Mondanile effortlessly floated up and down his guitar, all the while pushing up his sweat-laden white-Warhol-inspired glasses with his calloused middle finger. Every surfy-riff, every fill, every impressive sound on their album comes straight from that man’s guitar and that man’s ironically charming facial tics. Martin Courtney, on the other hand, I was more or less unpressed with – could it be the fact that he looked like such a snob? Or that he half mumble-yelled “Just stop playing! I don’t know what the f*#k to do!” at his bandmates when his stomp box wouldn’t cooperate? Sorry Martin, you thought no one heard, but I did, sucka! It felt like that moment when you realize the person you’re talking to is actually trash talking your best friend, and then you have to reveal your true idenity as the trash-talkee’s main squeeze. It’s just awkward.

As far as songs are considered, Real Estate played a considerable amount of tracks from both their first and most recent album. “Easy,” the latter album’s title track, felt the lovin’ in full force as the crowd rejoiced at the sound of the opening riff. Bassist Alex Bleeker took over on vocals for one track, and I imagine that it would have sounded great had anything he said been audible – he may have slappa-da-bass a little too hard. The band finally said their ‘thank you’ to the wonderful state of Vermont and scurried off stage, toting nothing but their expensive beers. Sure enough, in a matter of minutes they were back on stage and ready for another round. I saw BEACH COMBER written in all caps, just like that, on a napkin by Courtney’s mic stand, and I knew that with that song the crowd would be sold. Four minutes and twenty-eight seconds later, every girl was foaming at the mouth.

All in all – a very solid perfomance for a band that’s on the up-and-up. My rating: three out of four scoops of sugar. And an extra drop of half and half, cause they’re cute.