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  THE FOR CARNATION w/ Empire State and Ramadamafia  
  The Echo Lounge  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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I'm sure Bret Busch (of Ramadamafia and The H.O.T.s) is a very talented man. I mean, as far as I can tell, he's got a great voice...and his ability to cover other people's music is somewhat uncanny. However (and this is is a big however), I've pretty much decided that is I ever walk into a venue and see him on stage, I will RUN!!!!

Ramadamafia can only be described as a trip-hop lounge act. Perhaps their most notable song is a more or less note for note drum and vocal cover of Lauryn Hill's Doo Wop. In this cover, they slow down the rhythm to a spaced-out rap whilest Busch and vocalist/guitarist Pam Howe perform a high-pitched call and response of the lyrics. It's an intersting concept, but it's not exactly good. And that more or less sums up the performance of Ramadamafia as a whole -- entertaining, but in a "I can't believe they're doing this" type of way.

After surviving Ramadamafia on two beers, the next act was Empire State, a band I've seen many many times (like at the CMJ Music Festival). And while I like them in general, a certain sameness has crept into their performances. So I figured they'd be better than the opening act but not anything to get particularly excited about.

I was wrong -- it turns out that in the two months since I had previously seen them, Empire State had added new songs to their usual set list. Furthermore, they had gone back and reworked their previous music in order to "simplify" (as Tim Nackashi put it). In essence, instead of relying mainly on keyboard with occasional stringed instrument to emphasize the music and lyrics, the new songs (and the reworking) tend to rock more with more guitars and bass and fewer samples. Absolutely amazing and a strong reminder that their songs are more than just a reverbing pie-pan and a rotating whirlygig.

After that breath-taking performance, I figured that The For Carnation would be something of a disappointment. I mean, it's not like I'm familiar with their music. And as much as I may like the late, lamented Slint (to whom the vocalist of The For Carnation belonged), I'm not sure what direction this relatively new band would take.

Their set did not start off auspiciously. Although there were 6 people on stage, you could barely hear the music over the din of drunks yelling about their weekend plans and drunken escapades. I was tempted to leave, figuring that I'd had my enjoyment with the previous two bands.

However (and this is another big however), after some three or so songs, the crowd started to thin. And whether that effected the band or whether it changed the state of the listener, it seemed that the music began to jell. Suddenly, the changes in timbre and tempo became more apparent. And although the vocals were still indistinct and the instruments from the stage seemed somehow less prominent than the sum of the parts, a sound of beauty began to grow, slowly overwhelming the remaining drunks and overtaking The Echo Lounge. A sound which The For Carnation sustained for the remainder of the concert. Finally as it ended, I wanted the hall to stay silent so I could try to grasp the remaining echos, so I could attempt to recapture that slightly mystical trance fleeting sound.

Related Links:
  Album review: The For Carnation by The For Carnation.  

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