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Damon and Naomi at Le Poisson Rouge

by David Chiu

Anyone who has sort of followed Damon and Naomi‘s career from 1992 to the present knows that they can rock quietly. That’s what Damon and Naomi proved again in their subtle and soulful performance Saturday night.

Damon and Naomi are most famous for their work in 90s supergroup Galaxie 500. It has been almost 20 years since that alternative trio broke up, and although it only recorded three studio albums, it left an indelible and influential mark.

Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, who played drums and bass respectively in Galaxie 500, carved a niche in psychedelic folk music as Damon and Naomi, with a sound that hearkens cult artists like Tim Buckley and Nick Drake.

(Not surprisingly, the other former member of Galaxie 500, Dean Wareham, hasn’t drifted into obscurity either. Wareham went on to front Luna and is now part of the husband-and-wife musical duo Dean and Britta with Britta Phillips.)

In live shows, Krukowski plays acoustic guitar and Yang performs on the keyboards, which was the case on Saturday when the duo returned to New York City for a show at Le Poisson Rouge (formerly the Village Gate) as the opening act for A Hawk and Hacksaw. The performance coincided with Damon and Naomi’s recent release The Sub Pop Years, a 15-track compilation of music recorded for the Seattle indie label between 1995 and 2002.

The short live set was interestingly bookended by a pair of covers: Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren” and Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire.” In between were songs that drew from Damon and Naomi’s time at Sub Pop as well as a few tunes from their own label 20/20/20. Krukowski and Yang alternated on the lead vocals with the former strumming on his acoustic, and the latter providing atmospheric textures through her keyboards. Both of them contributed wonderful harmony vocals as well as some strong individual performances: Yang on the very moody “Lilac Land,” and Krukowski on “Turn of the Century.”

Damon and Naomi: The Mirror Phase

Damon and Naomi: The Mirror Phase