I have a day job and i live in Atlanta, which means that by 7:30 AM i had better be on the road during my long, boring commute, or else i will be late to work. This is part of the reason i go to so few concerts these days. However, the prospect of an Octopus Project performance was enough to drag me out on a Thursday. If i had known how things were going to turn out, i would have stayed home and gotten a full night's sleep instead.
So what, exactly, went wrong? Let me sum it up like this: The Star Bar is a rockabilly venue. These were electronic and electro-pop bands. The sound guy had no friggin' idea how to mix things, and consequently what we heard, in the crowd, was crap.
Plus, the crowd was annoying. Now, i know that i am an antisocial loner, but the people here were really rude. People would stand within a few inches of me and then act like nothing was wrong, even though the club was not that crowded and they could have spaced themselves out some more. Needless to say, because of the general rudeness of the crowd, i did not get any pictures. I just didn’t feel like fighting my way though the people… And another thing – deodorant is a remarkable invention. I highly recommend it.
So, there were three bands, all of which were mixed poorly. The first of these was Living Rooms, which is a three-piece act of very young looking males. Seriously – did these kids get carded on the way in? They should have!
One of them had a guitar, one had a mic, and all three had tables full of various electronic gear. They played for about 30 minutes, all of it overdriving the sound system, giving them some unwanted distortion and random popping noises. Their sound was similar to what Atlas Sound was doing on his first record, only the beats tended to be more ravetastic. They had one really good song that featured a rolling gothy bassline, but in general their material had the tendency to meander in unfocused ways. I think that they need some more work, but there is potential showing through.
After that, Tealights set up. Tealights is what happened to One Hand Loves the Other after lead vocalist Lou left. I saw OHLTO twice, and once it took them forever and a day to set up, mostly because they lacked the 2 AA batteries needed to make the electronic cello work. Well, tonight it took them 40 minutes to even get ready to try to sound check! WTF? This band is irritatingly disorganized, and they are officially on my "banned acts" list. It was complete and utter bullshit to keep us waiting that long. Here is a hint, Tealights – if your gear is that complicated to set up, maybe you need to re-think the whole "performing in front of crowds" thing. Or try simplifying your gear. Something needs to change.
Now, you would think that after 40 minutes of setup, they would sound good. You would, of course, be wrong. The sound for Tealights was atrocious. When the Korean girl sang, her voice was off-key and mixed out front of everything else, except the cello, which was the dominant sound whenever it was played. They have added a drummer, but for some reason the drums were not mic-ed at all, making it kind of difficult to hear the drums over the cello and the off-key warbling.
Again, it was a half-hour set. That is at least 15 minutes less in performance time than there was in set-up time, but that was also at least 25 more minutes than were enjoyable. Seriously – i think that Tealights have the potential to be interesting, but i just don’t see it. Maybe their records are good, but live they leave a lot to be desired.
The good thing is that Tealights even annoyed the headliners, who helped them clear their poorly functioning gear off the stage. The Octopus Project helped clear the stage, set up their own stuff, and soundchecked all in about 30 minutes. That is one efficient band.
They did not even start to play until 12:41 (AT&T time). They sounded better than any previous act this night, mostly because Josh Lambert spent about 10 minutes explaining what they wanted to the sound guy. The mix still came across as flat, but at least i could hear all of the layers of their sound.
The reason for this tour is that The Octopus Project has a new EP out, and on that EP, believe it or not, they sing. Yes, that right, for the first time in their career Josh and Yvonne Lambert harmonize on a song. It's called Wet Gold and is a really catchy number. They played it tonight, although the voices were not mixed quite as well as they could have been.
The band also played I Saw the Bright Shinies, the tune wherein Mrs. Lambert demonstrates her virtuosity on the theremin. This sounded great tonight, and was followed up by another theremin piece that i forget the name of. It is a long (6 minutes or so) spacey theremin-led tune. This sounded great as well.
They played about 40 minutes, a short-changed set that i blame on Tealights. The Octopus Project hit tunes from several of their records, focusing on Hello, Avalanche, their most recent full-length.
I enjoyed their set, despite my rather acute annoyance with the crowd, the previous acts, and the absurdly late hour. By the time i left the venue, there were only 6.5 hours left until i was supposed to be in the office for a full day's work. And this is why i don't go out to concerts a lot anymore. Oh well. Still – if you have the chance, go and see The Octopus Project.