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  +/- w/ The Clairvoyants and The Secret Machines  
  The Earl  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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I have written before about how this three year old venture we call has become a real music site. Case in point: i talked with Patrick Ramos (drummer of Versus) at the merch table before the show, and gave him an EvilSponge card. I mentioned that we had reviewed some Versus, to which he replied, "Oh, yeah. We've read that! Thanks."

You have no idea how much of a buzz it is to have somebody in a band as well known as Versus say that they have read your stuff. Okay, i'll stop geeking out now, and would like to point out to any Versus-members reading this that despite the somewhat negative tone of some of our reviews, we really do like Versus.

Okay, sycophantic ass-kissing aside, this was a great show, and almost wholly unexpected. Actually, it is usually when i wander into a club with no expectations that i walk away seriously impressed. Tonight was such a night. I wandered into The Earl knowing only that somebody on some mailing list had recommended a few Clairvoyants MP3's to me (and i had misplaced the files, but somehow thought the band were "goth"), and that +/- featured some members of Versus.

The first act, called The Secret Machines, was loud, rocky, and young. all of their gear (and they seemed to have quite a lot of it for a three piece) had NYC stamped on. This, plus their general sound, leads me to believe that somewhere in New York City there is an entire scene based around the worship of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation to the exclusion of everything else. Now, i am all for Sonic Youth, but this? Well, let's just say that this band is young and they wear their influences a little too brightly on their sleeves.

Tracers referred to them as "the band most likely to induce significant hearing loss". Which is a kind of compliment, i suppose, and strikes a strong distinction with the next act: Clairvoyants.

Ah, Clairvoyants. What an amazing band, and not at all "goth" as i had first suspected. Instead, Clairvoyants do everything there is to like about mellow pop music.

They were a two-piece: a singer guitarist and a keyboardist with a laptop. Very simple in composition, but in expressive power there are few to compare. Their songs were minimal almost to the point of being ambient, achingly constructed out of chiming notes and his voice. The singer, Brian (as we later discovered), has a luscious rich voice. Expressive and strong, his singing reminds me of that of Luka Bloom.

My verdict on Clairvoyants: amazing. Go see them.

But we had an incident of wierdness during their performance. As i said before, their set was almost ambient in its quietude. The Earl was mostly empty, but at the bar one rather drunk individual was chatting with his friend. No, not chatting -- shouting at, but in a friendly way. He was LOUD. And he was disturbing the show, throwing off the performers timing, and disturbing the rest of the crowd who were entranced by the performance.

And finally, it got to be too much for one gentleman, who went over to Loud Drunk Guy and asked him to keep it down a little. Which offended Loud Drunk Guy, and prompted him to start screaming at Polite Fan Guy, and threatening him. For a second or two it looked like a real brawl might start, at this really mellow concert. And then the bartender and another employee escorted Loud Drunk Guy from the bar. The crowd cheered, and the vocalist said, "Thanks for doing that" to Polite Fan Guy.

It was a truly surreal and funny experience. I mean, i have been to punk or metal or Redneck Underground shows where the hint of violence lies barely subdued, and yet it was at a mellow pop show that i almost saw a brawl. Wierd wierd wierd. It just added to the overall enjoyment of the evening, and there still was +/- to see!

+/- features James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos from Versus, as well as two others. They are a standard four-piece indie rock ensemble: bass, guitar, guitar/vox, and drums. Except that the drummer also has a laptop adding a few skittering electro beats, and two of the guitar players had keyboards as well.

Most of their set was insanely catchy indie pop, with the barest hint of electronica thrown in. Very catchy, happy, and fun. If you like Versus, or just finely crafted indie pop, you will definitely enjoy +/-.

I had a blast this evening. What fun.

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Versus rocking out!


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