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  2 FOOT YARD w/ Vortex Park  
  The EARL  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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New York band 2 Foot Yard has a rather distinctive lineage: beyond the classical training and heritage of members of the group, they have also played in the backing bands of artists as varied as Mary J Blige and Laurie Anderson. Based upon this, as well as the rather pretty tunes available online, I took a chance on the Thursday evening before Memorial Day and ventured out to The EARL by myself to see what 2 Foot Yard sounded like in a live setting.

The opening band, Atlanta's Vortex Park, is a group which I have seen previously. However, it has been many months since the last time I encountered them, and I was eager to see how they had matured and changed in the intervening time. Currently a four piece with vocals/guitar, stand up bass, drums, and violin, Vortex Park's music can be hard to pin down upon first listen. The easiest way to describe this act is to say that they have both gypsy and jazz influences which are accentuated by syncopated rhythms.

In particular, their third song, a tune called No Compromise, demonstrated the above characteristics in abundance. This one was simply lovely, with a longish melodic interlude in the middle which played the mournful violin part against the other instruments in something reminiscent of Ferocious Bubbles. Conversely, in one of the songs in the latter part of their set the violin showed a slightly different dimension, with an almost funk-like sound, which was nicely done if a bit unexpected. By the time they left the stage, I was convinced that Vortex Park has certainly matured as a cohesive group and they definitely have a distinctive and unusual sound for a local Atlanta band. Certainly this is one to listen for, especially if you are looking for something a little offbeat and not caught up in a musical land of effects and pedals.

After a shortish interlude, the three piece 2 Foot Yard took the stage. The male guitarist sat behind the drumkit and kept the rhythm whilst also providing guitar-y accompaniment to some tunes. At the front of the stage, violinist Carla Kihlstedt and cellist Marika Hughes shared vocal duties. Based on the tracks I had heard previously, I expected the music to be gentle and unassuming, sort of like Azure Ray.

However, what I heard was in fact way more interesting. Although many of their songs were quite lovely, other tunes built to a loud, deliberately discordant peak. Likewise, the two vocalists also seemed to alternate between gentle, breathy melodies and precise harmonies that seemed to be based on diminished chord progressions. The second style of vocals can sound prickly to some people, but listening closely you could hear the deliberation behind the construction. And I guess that's the one thing that struck me about the music: it was extremely precise both in the writing as well as in the execution. In some ways it reminded me of Beat the Devil filtered through the collective nature of Anti-Social Music.

In the end, both bands on display tonight were quite different than I had expected. Vortex Park's increasing complexity and structure serves them well. In contrast, 2 Foot Yard moved beyond the light delicateness I thought I would hear and served up something much more intriguing and interesting. A surprisingly good night of music, all in all.

Related Links:

2 Foot Yard Website:
2 Foot Yard on MySpace:
Vortex Park Website:
Vortex Park on MySpace:


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