Many times when I go to a concert, I plan to
review it from the get go. However, sometimes I just plan to
go and enjoy the music and I'll never write about. On the night
in question, I went to see Teen Wheat and Centre on the recommendation
of a friend, and I was planning to just enjoy the music and
then go on my merry little way. As you can see, that's not what
ended up happening.
Before I'd ever heard them, Teen Wheat was described to me
as sounding a bit like Unwound. Now I like post-punk music,
so I figured "Why not?" and toddled off towards Lennys
(not one of my favorite venues). From the first, I found that
I really really liked them. Admittedly, to my mind, they did
not resemble Unwound, but rather sounded more like one of those
80s Southern California semi-serious punk bands that I grew
up on. When I first walked in, I kept thinking they sounded
a bit like The Descendants, but as I stood and listened, comparisons
to The Germs or perhaps early Bad Religion entered my mind.
But even that wasn't right on: the guitars were way too crunchy,
the drumming was a little too precise, and the bassist was over
the top. Nevertheless, the music and songwriting was fun and,
oddly enough, you can dance to it.
More importantly, the band didn't seem to take itself too seriously.
At one point, vocalist David Collins stopped a song after the
band messed up and said, "See? That's why I didn't want to play
this." However, after a brief pause, drummer Kevin Wallace counted
the beat off, and the band picked up where they had gone wrong,
and brought things to a rousing end. Many bands would have been
thrown off by this experience, but Teen Wheat kept on laughing
and playing. Finally, they finished up their set with bassist
Patrick Hill bring down the ceiling tiles with his bass in good
rock fashion. I confess that I clapped enthusiastically, and
I’m eager to see them again.
I've seen Centre before,
and truth be told, I and the other Minions weren't too impressed
at the time. I mean, I like math rock/jazz, but I prefer mine
to be more angular than noodley. And the time we saw Centre
they seemed really noodley and unfocused. However, on this evening,
whether it was a different show, a different venue, or just
a normal growth process, Centre was much more impressive. Seemingly
lead by a masterful drummer, the four musicians created a dark,
precise sound that was a perfect soundtrack to the dimly lit
Also, the musicians varied their instrumentation between and
during songs in a way that added to the music as opposed to
seeming merely self-indulgent. For instance, at one point, the
bassist changed to playing a trombone while the keyboardists/extra
percussionist picked up a trumpet. In the context, a horn section
might seem a bit odd, but during Centre's set it really worked.
Of course this may be due to PostLibyan's belief that math rock
is the natural evolution of ska music in the local Atlanta scene.
Truthfully, this is a natural progression, if only because most
people who play horns have the musical training to pull off
the off time signatures of a math scene. Furthermore, the drummer
in Centre was a sight to behold – he played precisely and forcefully
in a somewhat unpredictable manner. His drumming patterns were
not those you'd expect, which added to the complexity of the
music. Furthermore, at various times, he brought out a bow and
used it to play the cymbals. That may seem a bit pretentious,
but it was certainly different and interesting. All in all,
I was quite impressed by the evolution of Centre, and would
also go see them again.
Although I claim that I don't give bands second chance, in
reality I do (unless they're so god-awful that I never ever
want to hear them again). In this case I was glad that my predilection
for punk brought me to this show. Truly I loved and enjoyed
Teen Wheat, but that wasn't really a surprise. Instead the surprise
came from a band I had written off who managed to impress me
this time around.