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THE DEARS w/ Shout Out Louds and Marjorie Fair






East Atlanta , GA

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Another night of all touring bands at The EARL and this time is apparently a package tour. In fact, they had their own sound guy, their own mixing board that was set up next to The EARL's regular soundbooth, roadies, and an elaborate light show. No, really, there were four fancy rotating gel lights set up on top of the monitors, spinning and changing color. Oh, and they had a fog machine. Now, if you been in The EARL, you know that the music room really isn't that big, so the addition of all this gear (as well as one of those big racks that holds many guitars) made the room seem cramped. Well, i suppose that the large crowd who turned out tonight helped with the cramped feeling as well.

I showed up at 10, when the club was still mostly empty. I was in time to see the first opener, Marjorie Fair, about which i knew nothing. They were a four piece band that walked on stage to the fog machine. How fun! Their lineup consisted of a drummer, a guitarist, a bassist, and a guy on keyboards and laptop. I think that all of them also added vocals, but i must admit that i could barely see the drummer through the fog, and he might not have been singing! They had a vaguely shoegazery sound, especially on their opening tune, with lots of reverb, echo, and delay. I suppose that i would call them a Radiohead damaged band, in that the vocals/lyrics and general feel of their music reminded me most of Radiohead's The Bends. Although their set dragged a tad in the middle (when they played a couple of really slowish tunes), i found them to be enjoyable on the whole.

From some comments they made from the stage, i gather that they are a young band, but i think that the direction they seem to indicate is a promising one. One of the things i liked most about their short set was that the music never stopped. When the band members were re-tuning for the next song, the laptop spat out ambient washes of sound, and the next tune would blend in with that. It was really well done, and i would like to see them do more with their laptoptronica.

Marjorie Fair tore their gear down really quickly, as The EARL slowly filled up. The next band was called Shout Out Louds, and apparently they are from Stockholm, Sweden, although as is so often the case with scandinavians i could detect no real accent. However, a local Swedish contingent was present, and they kept yelling things in Swedish at the stage, some of which apparently amused the band to no end. It was really weird to see this, well i guess it could be called "heckling", conducted in a different language. But the laughter of the band contributed to the overall fun feeling of Shout Out Louds.

The band is a five piece, adding a keyboardist to the standard two guitar, drums, and bass indie rock band approach. Their music was energetic and insanely catchy, almost garage-y at times, but rocking out hard. I want to compare them to The Notwist, although that might have something to do with the crisp pronunciation and slightly gaspy vocal delivery of the lead vocalist. At any rate, they played for an incredibly fun 45 minutes, churning out feel good songs that just made me tap my feet and bop my head. They are a really great live band, and are definitely worth catching if they come your way.

Finally, just after midnight, The Dears took the stage. They were the only act tonight that i had heard before, and that being only a single and a few compilation appearances. They are from Montreal, and in the traditions of that city (see also, Godspeed), they are a big band. They had two keyboardists, who also sang backing vocals and added percussion; a lead singer/guitarist; a lead guitarist; a drummer; and a guy who sometimes played bass and sometimes futzed with an electronica-style mixing board on stage. They had a lot of gear and people crammed up there, especially for The EARL. They looked slightly cramped. The funniest thing about the band, to me at least, was that the guitarist, bassist/mixer, and drummer, who were all crammed onto the right side of the stage, shared a bottle of wine. I dunno why that made me laugh. I guess it is because most musicians i see drink beer to rehydrate from the heat of performance, but these three, being Quebecquois i suppose, had a bottle of wine that they would chug from and pass back and forth. It's a cultural thing.

Anyway, the music of The Dears is complex pop that probably falls somewhere into the post-rock genre. The music was dynamic and moody, and often the complex interplay between the various band members was fascinating. They obviously know what they are doing, and have honed their performance to highlight their strengths rather well. At times they reminded me of Do Make Say Think with vocals and more keys, and at times of a spaced out version of Saturday Looks Good to Me (The Dears' vocalist having a powerful, soulful voice that would have worked well in any Motown band). At other times, their music referenced Pink Floyd and psychedelia in general, and there were even a couple of tunes where the two keyboard attack took on a Styx like feel (more Come Sail Away than Too Much Time On My Hands, but still fun).

I found The Dears to be very interesting live. However, well, they played just after Shout Out Louds, who i must confess are one of the best and most exciting live acts i have seen in a long time. As such, i think The Dears paled by comparison. Oh, both are great bands, and both put on interesting sets, it is just that The Dears were so much lower in energy than Shout Out Louds, and that previous band had gotten me really energized, so the mellow rock of The Dears was something of a letdown. Well, just barely a letdown, as i did get into their set. But really, next time The Dears tour they need to find an opener who won't out-rock them like Shout Out Louds did.

Still, this was a wonderful night full of interesting music. All three bands were definitely worth seeing and i would go see any of them again, the next time they tour.

Related Links:
  We Can Have It b/w Summer of Protest, a 7" released by The Dears in 2004.

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