Tracers has this theory that there is a cyclical nature to the music scene here in Atlanta. Bands form, play out for a while, record, then splinter/fragment into new projects. Recently, we have noticed the birth of many new bands, hence, EvilSponge's renewed interest in "live
reviews" (a type of review that sort of faded out on here last year). Tonight we saw a few of the new local acts. And they seem pretty impressive.
The first noticeable change in the music scene is the preponderance of DJs these days. Oh sure, rave clubs, gay clubs, etc. have featured DJs for years, but having a dedicated DJ set up to spin tunes before/after the bands play is, well, new. And interesting in this case, especially seeing
as DJ Sars basically stole my record collection to play. He played stuff off of the first Undertones record, some Pogues, some Joe Strummer. It was really cool to be standing at The EARL, surrounded by many friends and fellow scenesters, and hear the same sort of stuff i listen to at home played on a nice soundsystem. Very cool. And a definite improvement from The EARL's habit of playing AC/DC as the intermission music... So: DJs at Indie Rock shows spinning Indie Rock tunes. I like the trend.
The first actual band tonight was The Liverhearts. They played at Corndog-o-rama,
but were one of the acts that got screwed by scheduling difficulties
during the corndog eating contest. They only played for about
15 minutes that night, and we were never sure which of the three
bands listed they actually were. (Note to band: make sure to
at least say your band name once during your set so audience
members can find out who you are!) So tonight, when they took
the stage, i made the connection and looked forward to a full
set by these boys.
The Liverhearts have your standard indie rock lineup: bass,
guitar/vocals, guitar, drums. Their sound is a sort of loud,
vaguely angular, post-punk. Think more Wire
than Slint, or, more rock,
less math. They played a tight set that really got the crowd
going, but the best thing, in my mind, was a sort of "meta"
song that featured the chorus, "I play the indie rock". An indie
rock song about playing indie rock songs -- how cool is that?
Anyway, they were fun, and i would go see them again. Tracers
pointed out that they seem to fill the gap left in the local
scene by the recent breakup of The
Paper Lions, and i think that's right. Harder, sort of mathy,
post-punk rock. Fun to see live.
The DJs were back for a short intermission while the middle
act, Sybris, set up. This Chicago-based band was a standard
four-piece again, only this time featuring a female guitarist/vocalist.
Her voice ... well, it kind of annoyed me. At times it reminded
me of Edie Brickell, and at other times of the whiney moments
of the lead singer of Bettie
Serveert. Malimus thought she was reminiscent of Fiona Apple,
but i'm not really familiar with that voice. Anyway, the problem
might very well have been in the mix that night, and i certainly
don't hold it against the band based on one show.
Musically, Sybris seem to come from the Chicago "tons of effects
pedals" school of playing. Much of the guitar sounds reminded
me of Verve, although a few songs bore a certain Pixies influence,
and the last tune they played ended with a really nice 16 Deluxe-esque
guitar freakout wherein the guitarists made sure to hit every
one of their pedals at least once.
So, overall, i dunno what to make of this band. Not bad, but not spectacular i guess.
Another short DJ filled intermission, during which DJ Sars played The Undertones' Teenage Kicks for me, and then The Orphins took the stage. This band has been playing around for a few years or so, and i think they have consistently put on decent shows. Again, they are a
standard indie rock 4-piece band, only with a female bassist. (And she tends to scowl at the crowd as she plays. The angriest female bassist in Atlanta perhaps? Well, she certainly can play at least....)
Their sound is, well, classic post-punk. Think trebly guitars, a kind of keyboardy arpeggio sound (no keyboards in the band, but the one guitarist plays very ... oddly), strong moving rhythms, and half-spoken vocals almost buried in the mix. They really remind me of early Gang of Four, but that might just be because i have been listening to 100 Flowers a
lot lately. They certainly have an influence from that era.
The Orphins played a very nice, tight set. I'm not too familiar with their
catalog, but i am fairly certain they played Camp Cryotop,
the lead (and best in my opinion) tune off of their debut album
Drowning Cupid. Overall, the rhythms really moved
the songs along, and by god indie rockers were dancing to the
music. Weird. That's twice i have been at The EARL and seen
indie rockers dancing. What is the world coming to? Next
thing you know DJs will be playing at The EARL! Oh, wait....
Anyway, this was a fun night. Both The Liverhearts and The Orphins are worthwhile acts in the current crop of Atlanta bands, and Sybris are not without their merits. Fun was had by Minions and non-Minions alike. In fact, everyone seemed to have a really good time at the show, and that is
what going to shows is for, after all.