The quiet, respectful crowd lazily filled in the Beachland as the Books took the stage Thursday night, armed with many acoustic instruments — cello, violin, guitars — complemented by a fine blend of found sounds and vocal samples. Meanwhile, cut-up footage delivered borderline sensory overload by adding comical videos on top of terrific musicianship.
A seemingly random sequence of letters, numbers, and symbols graced the main slide underneath the band. Those capable of decoding any of it discovered it was the Books' set list, which began with a new song, “Group Therapy,” about a number of therapists with one patient.
The most entertaining videos were attached to last year’s The Way Out. “Chain of Missing Links” featured floating heads and hypnotherapy, whereas “A Cold Freezin’ Night” was created by collecting the silly, violent insults kids recorded on old Talkboy tapes from Home Alone 2. Yet, “I Didn’t Know That” was given one of the best video collages, presenting golf footage from the ‘80s and ‘90s like it was the funkiest thing the ‘70s had forgotten.
As a brief aside, the only break in the set repeated “meditation” as anagrams of the word projected onscreen.
Books member Nick Zammuto revealed that they translated a popular folk song for "Free Translator," but ignored revealing which for legal reasons. The end result is such a radical new take that it should deflect copyright infringements, but some of the lyrics are strikingly similar to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”: the Books’ “meteorological man” vs. Dylan’s “weather man,” the “whirl-wind girl” vs. “girl by the whirlpool,” “raccoon hat” vs. “coon-skin cap.” You get the idea.
A few old — “That Right Ain’t Shit” and “Take Time” — and new tracks were sprinkled throughout the set. At the end of the night, the Books performed “Classy Penguin,” a new song accompanied by clips from their childhood, and a cover of Nick Drake’s “Cello Song.” —Michael Tkach