There are certain benefits to being a regular at the local venues.
If it's a weekend night, you're guaranteed to run into tons of
people you know. The guy checking IDs only marginally glances
at your drivers license. The bartender always serves you quickly,
no matter how crowded the bar is. And the door girl doesn't bother
to stamp your hand. But, most importantly, you're already familiar
with the local bands, so you know that a good night of music is
to be had.
In fact, on this night, the only real wild card was the first band, Eyes to
Space. I knew nothing of them, except for the fact they are
from Chapel Hill, so I didn't know what to expect. Oddly enough,
even after they played, I wasn't sure what to expect. They were
a four piece with drums, guitar, keyboard, and bass/keyboard.
In and of itself, that might not sound so strange, but the music
they played was something to behold. First off, the guitarist
seemed like he learned to play by watching too much Eddie Van
Halen. By this I mean that, during the songs, he managed to
work in that extremely quick and proficient guitarwork one more
normally associates with Van Halen, et a as opposed to the standard
Indie Rock farel. Next, the keyboardist/ vocalist played a keyboard
which was modified (not constructed) to be worn from a guitar
strap. Taken together, along with the bassist (who flipped to
keyboard) and punk-ish drumming, the music sounded like Devo
meets The Squalls. And, surprisingly, it was good.
After Eyes to Space's set, The Orphins quickly set up on The
EARL's tiny side stage. Normally, unless it's a festival, no-one
plays the side stage, probably because there aren't any monitors
and only a rudimentary PA, so the sound's kinda dodgy. Anyway,
on this evening, The Orphins sounded quite good, although the
guitars were perhaps a little too loud. Mostly, they played
songs off their album, but they also did my favorite song by
them, an icily perfect, Wire-esque
tune called Tundra. As I looked around, I realized we
weren't the only ones getting into their set. We were surrounded
by several regulars, who were dancing along to the music. That's
a little strange if you think about it: the biggest Indie Rock
dance band in Atlanta plays angular new wave (in the old school
sense) music that's rather fast paced. I can't disagree because
The Orphins are, quite frankly, that good in concert.
At that point in the evening, I honestly thought The Liverhearts were next. However, I turned around from the side stage to see The Close setting up. On this evening, they were their usual four piece, although they had a temporary drummer, Greg Stevens of Hex Error. This substitution had two effects on The Close's set. First off, Greg's mom was in the crowd, and the band discussed it at length. More importantly, the addition of this harder rocking drummer gave The Close's music a new-found strength.
This energy reminded me of why The Close are also one of my
favorite Atlanta bands. Although some of their music sounds
vaguely the same, each song is a held together by the strength
of their backline, over which the guitar holds the melody and
the keyboard usually adds accents. This was clearly in evidence
when they played Diane Don't Dive. And, if the evening
had ended at that point, I think I would have been content.
But, we had another band to go: The Liverhearts. Per pre-show
conversation, this was the last show of the original lineup.
Apparently one member is going away to school. I've seen them
twice before, and liked them. And on this evening, despite the
late hour, and the band's apparent intoxication, they too put
on an enjoyable set. Postlibyan thinks they sound like a classic
emo band, taking a hint of Fugazi,
a dash of Slint, and a generous
portion of melody. In fact, PostLibyan thinks it is their melodic
sense that makes them stand out from the emo crowd. I bow to
his expertise in the genre, but to my mind, The Liverhearts
seem like the natural successors to the late Paper
Lions. They're still young and a little sloppy, but I think
that with a little time, they may well reach that type of sound.
Anyway, although, on the surface, this could have been another night of the same old stuff, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The Orphins certainly show that they are one of the best live Atlanta bands these days, while The Close managed to reinvigorate my enthusiasm for their music. In the meantime, Eyes to Space offered something a little offbeat and different, while The Liverhearts planted themselves as a band to watch for in the future.