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Concert Review: Cymbals Eat Guitars gives Troubador dream show

Marla Bahloul
Arts Editor

It was 9:45 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard when New York-based Cymbals Eat Guitars begins to play at the Troubadour on Sept. 19. Joseph D’Agostino, 20, fronts the band, putting on what he claims to be their best performance.

The venue is old with eroding concrete walls. The staircase leading to a bands only lounge can scarcely hold itself up. Even so, this doesn’t seem to take away from their energy.

“Why there are Mountains” is the band’s first studio-recorded album. Beginning their set promptly with their single, “And the Hazy Sea,” D’Agostino’s vigor is immediately recognized.

He has set his foot down, gearing toward indie stardom. Accompanied by Matthew Miller, Brian Hamilton, and Neil Barenholz, the New York quartet is sure to meet their rise to fame in the near future, already receiving acclamation from prominent publications like Pitchfork and NME.

D’Agostino addresses the crowd once, shyly saying, “We are Cymbals Eat Guitars,” and even that is forced out of him. He has a quirky, high-pitched voice, accompanied by sporadic movements and dances.

Playing a total of seven songs, Cymbals Eat Guitars’ 40-minute set was ended promptly, with all four members breaking apart equipment, allowing for the next two bands, the Depreciation Guild and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, to follow them.

By this time, D’Agostino is drenched in sweat, saturated by his own perspiration.

The band’s name holds sentimental value to D’Agostino as their title is dedicated to a mentor of his youth.

“Well, it was the summer after senior year in high school. We were listening to old-school slowcore. We would record in the basement of a friend of mine,” said D’Agostino.

“We had a drum that we’d turn to the side and beat on. And that was it. We came to the name Cymbals Eat Guitars, Then the guy (who we’d record with) passed away and I thought I’d keep the name,” said D’Agostino.

Cymbals Eat Guitars is also said by D’Agostino to be attributed by a quote from Lou Reed. It is a way of describing the intricacy of their sound.

Most of the band’s inspiration is drawn from literature.

D’Agostino attended Fordham University in New York, but decided instead to focus his attention on the band.

“I read a lot of poetry. I love Elizabeth Bishop and John Ashbery. I don’t know, songs just drop out every 3 to 4 months – it’s a long process,” said D’Agostino.

Their West Cost tour has thus far proved to be an amazing experience, despite several trying incidents.
“It’s always surprising seeing how many people show up to our shows. The Troubadour is amazing. Seeing our name on the marquee is a dream come true,” D’Agostino said.

They will continue to tour in the United States until mid-October, with a second Trouba­dour performance on Monday.

Come Nov. 7, they will be touring in Europe, starting in Lubeck, Germany, with Wilco. Once in London, they will perform with the Flaming Lips.

“Touring has been far so far. I’ll ride the train for as long as it will run,” D’Agostino said.

Marla Bahloul can be reached at

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