It's been forever and a day since i was at The
Eyedrum. (Well, 26 months actually....) In the intervening time,
the gallery has moved to a new building. No more "band in the
basement", instead they have a nice big space.
There was some art, and some of it was neat, but i really don't
know anything about "art" so all i'll say is this: none of it
made me laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Art that is really
wierd, yet seems so serious, makes me laugh. None of this was
like that, so i guess that's a good thing.
Anyway, right at 9:30 the first act, Sound Doesn't Travel Through
Nothing, were all ready to go. They were sitting there, and
they decided to play a cover "while waiting for the show to
start". (What we were waiting on, i have no idea.) So they started
playing a Radiohead song (off of OK, Computer
i think) when suddenly the sound guy ran in, all flustered,
and asked why they had started yet. It was a wierd little standoff
-- apparently he was offended, and they were supposed to wait
for something.... I dunno what was going on, but it was an amusing
So after another 10 minutes or so, whatever magical sign was
needed occurred, and they began playing. They make minimalist
classical music out of guitars and piano. I did not find them
particularly challenging, but for ambient it wasn't bad. Of
course, EvilSponge caused mayhem during their performance. Tracers
walked by some large art thingie in the middle of the room and
tugged the end of it with her skirt, causing it make a loud,
screeching noise that was clearly audible over the band. Then,
in a fit of utter clumsiness, i dropped an almost full can of
beer, causing Tracers to giggle at me, everyone in the surrounding
audience to spin around suddenly to look at me, and my knee
to get soaked.
So Sound Doesn't Travel Through Nothing were not bad, but not
great. In all honesty i think the best thing about the band
is their name, which is, let's face it, pretty awesome.
Now, there was some serious controversy regarding who was to
play next. This quote is taken from The
Hubcap City -- this electronica duo from belgium is
touring the U.S. for the first time in support of their new
CD, Das Kaiser.
Interesting. Not that they are a laptop band, or that they
are Belgian, but rather that "Hubcap City" also refers to the
quirky drums, acoustic guitar, and ranting act of Atlanta music
legend Bill Taft. And yet Eyedrum claims that there is another
band that has stolen Bill's band's name. Other people (such
as Creative Loafing) implied that it was Bill
who would be playing. I, personally, hoped that it was a Belgian
laptop act, and that Bill came and got in a fight with them
over the name. Now that would have been funny....
Almost as funny as an actual Bill Taft performance, really.
See, Bill obviously read the blurb too, so he kept going on
about how they were Belgian, and his name was "Leopold II" and
his drummer was "Wilhelm". He also went on about how their songs
were traditional Belgian hymns about the Civil War, or traditional
Belgian ice-fishing songs. All this in his vague southern drawl.
It was like a little stand-up comedy act interspersed with
quirky songs. Honestly, i kept laughing. In fact, even old Bill
Taft couldn't keep a straight face -- he and his drummer kept
laughing.... So it was very very fun.
As to the music: well, Hubcap City defy explanation. Bill sings
surrealist stories over strummed acoustic guitar (he even feeds
his acoustic through an Overdrive FX Pedal at times, for a really
great fuzzy sound), and odd drumming. The drummer's whole kit
seems homemade -- an old kick drum on it's side, propped up
with a little stand made out of 2x4's, drumsticks that look
to be more duct tape than wood, a tiny old electronic keyboard,
and some wierd pieces of metal clipped to the side of the drum.
The emphasis of the band is on fun: they are goofy and quirky
and entertaining. They are there to have a good time, and by
golly they hope that you do too. And i did.
Finally, the headliner. This is the fourth (or so) time i have
seen Envie. And the band just keeps on growing. This time they
consisted of Renee Nelson on keys and harp, Chris Jensen on
drums, Deisha Oliver on rhythm cello, Diana Obscura on lead
cello, and Suzanne Barnes on violin. Renee, Deisha, and Suzanne
are American Dream people, Chris
is ex-Myssouri, and Diana
does her own thing and plays with Aphelion.
So i guess you can say that Envie are a sort of local supergroup:
kind of like Damn Yankees, only without Tommy Shaw.
Anyway, they were amazing. It was chamber music, but with the
added benefit of drums (something i have often found lacking
in Vivaldi). Nelson did most of the vocals, occasionally joined
by Obscura. Both of them sing in a pseudo-classical style: drawn
out syllables and a generally high pitch. The vocals really
fit in with what else the band is doing.
The dueling cellos sounding amazing. And, well, now that i
could actually hear Barnes, i realize that she is pretty good
at what she does. (This is a slam on the fact that her regular
band, American Dream, is often so poorly mixed that the violin
is lost in the guitar din. A recurring problem for The Dream.)
In fact, all of it sounded great, but there were two standouts.
First, in a blatant attempt at sucking up to critics, Nelson
dedicated a song to EvilSponge. Brendan would have been so proud
-- but it's far too cold for a water-dwelling creature to travel
right now. Anyway, Enviee played Feeling Gravity's Pull
for us. She has played this R.E.M. cover before, but tonight,
with the two cellos and the violin backing her up, it sounded
beautiful. The little coda at the end (Peter Buck's guitar drone
fading out on the R.E.M. album) was played by Barnes on the
violin. Stunning. Really.
The other standout was a sort of duet between Nelson and Barnes
that ended the show. Nelson sang and played, and Barnes adding
a rich violin counter-melody. It sounded really good.
So i am impressed. I have enjoyed all that i have heard from
this band to date, and am curious to see where they will go
next. I know that they are planning to go into the studio, and
i hope that they get a good engineer. If this delicate music
were poorly recorded, it would be pointless.
Anyway, a fun, but strange, night. I heartily recommend Envie
to all of you readers who are looking for something a little
different. It's not standard indie rock, and it doesn't have
a laptop. It's pretty original, i suppose. And that is saying