Sometimes when i go out to a show, all of the bands work together, and one realizes that there is a fine art to being The Booking Guy. Other times i go out, and it seems as if three bands just got stuck on the same bill for no reason. This was one of those latter type of nights.
The first act was the main reason i had come: Black Love. They are a two piece avante-garde electronic outfit. One member sings and plays keys while the other messes with a synthesizer and occasionally adds bass. Tonight, they did three songs. I think. Their pieces don't really have a structure in the traditional "verse chorus verse" sense, so sometimes it's hard to tell.
The show started with the one member creating a keyboard drone while the other guy handed incense sticks out to the small audience. This was a long and formless piece of music that was pretty nice. Then, they started up some sort of sample loop, perhaps of traditional Indian or Arabic music. Both members clanged on percussiony things and a low drone rumbled from the synthesizer. Slowly, more and more sounds joined in, including live bass. In all honesty, this song reminded me of the early work of Tranquility Bass, although done at a pace far more glacial than anything that band ever did. Still, it was a really fun song and i enjoyed watching it grow and mutate for its 10 minutes or so. The third piece consisted of dueling keyboard bits that seemed nice and light and relaxing in a vaguely New Age sort of way.
Overall, that was 20 minutes worth of music. And that's 20 minutes worth of music unlike anything else you are likely to see in Atlanta, and they managed to keep it interesting. One comment though -- the set was done before the incense had burned out. They should have synchronized that better. Anyway, i really enjoyed their set. This is the second time i have seen this band, and i just find them fascinating.
Then we had to wait almost an hour for the second band, Twittering
Machine, to start. That was way too long of a break, and during
the intermission, we Minions began to feel collectively tired.
Twittering Machine are a pretty unique band by Atlanta standards,
but still there is no real musical connection between them and
Black Love. Instead of avante-garde electronic music, Twittering
Machine do light, vaguely jazzy pop. Emphasis on the light,
which proved to be problematic as one could not always hear
them over the incessant chatter of the crowd. They make their
light pop with a cello, drums, guitar, bass, and accordion.
The accordionist also sings, and she has a mid-ranged voice
that is vaguely reminiscent of Sarah McLaughlin. (And by "vaguely
reminiscent" i mean that the singer can hit some of the high
notes, a few of the low, but still displays a good diversity
in the mid-range.)
The light pop they make is slightly jazzy, and indeed swing dancing did eventually break out in the crowd. (Ugh. I thought that trend had re-died in the mid 90's!) I enjoyed what they were playing well enough, but it was late and the languidness of their sound really would work better at a coffee shop than at a smoky bar. That might just be me though, as many in the crowd were dancing and appeared to be having a lot of fun.
In general, i would say that there is a faint echo of Atlanta's
long-lost legend, The Jody Grind, in this band. Not to say that
this vocalist is as powerful as Kelly
Hogan (back when she tried) or that their guitarist is as
quirkily brilliant as Mr. Bill
Taft. But, with the jazz in the sound, the emphasis on the
voice, and the quirky instrumentation, well… The Jody Grind
"lite" is what comes to mind, and i don't mean that as an insult,
just as an observation.
Overall, they played for an hour, which was far too long given the time of the evening and the general slowness and quietness of their music. So it was almost 12:30 and the third band (the headliner) hadn't even set up yet. Fortunately Luigi set up very quickly (a whole set change in under 20 minutes, including tuning), and they were much more energetic. But again, they didn't really seem to connect sonically with the previous band. Tonight we went from avante electro to lite jazz pop to indie rock. Well, there was a huge wait between the electro and the jazz, but still... I don't necessarily think that anyone who came out to see a particular band would necessarily like the other bands. There was no real unity of sound here. Weird.
Anyway, i first heard Luigi at this year's Corndog-o-rama,
where they put on a very fun set. This is the new band of ex-Ultrababyfatter
Michelle DuBois, and she has constructed a very competent indie
rock act to back her up. I really enjoyed their music, but after
about 20 minutes i was having too much trouble staying awake
to stay through their whole set, so i headed to the highway
and the long drive home. Someday i hope to see a full Luigi
concert, and i fully recommend them to any fans of fun indie
pop. They seem to be very good, from what little i have heard.
Overall, this wasn't the best night. Even though i enjoy Twittering Machine, they played for way too long and were too slow for a beer-y friday night. Oh well. You win some you lose some.