Outside of SxSW, 2009 hasn't been a large concert-going year for me. Some of this is due to the fact that there just haven't been all that many touring shows to pull me out of the house at the night (you can blame the economy for this one). More importantly, it also seems like the local Atlanta music scene is going through one of its periodic evolutions, wherein certain mainstay bands have broken up and new ones are gradually taking their place. This transition means that, for the discerner reviewers, it's become a lot harder to randomly pick out a show and head out knowing that at least one of the band's is sure to be worth watching.
Having said all that, two of the bands on this evening's bill (Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun and Pistolero) have certainly been playing out for a while. It's just that neither has become one of my local concert stalwarts, despite each having a solid reputation for good performances. But, quite frankly, I was starting to get a little stir crazy without my usual dosing of local music and this show seemed like a good enough opportunity to thrown myself back into the pool, so to speak.
When we arrived at The EARL, youngish Atlanta band Tendaberry was already on stage. They introduced themselves as a post-punk/soul group and, despite the oddness of the juxtaposition, that description is rather apt. Powered by a very strong rhythm section (in particular, the bassist's playing was breath-taking), the group managed to combine classic-style soul beats with the speed and ferocity I've come to expect from any number of older punk bands.
Tendaberry in action.
And on a couple of tunes, I definitely heard a Gang of Four influence or perhaps a hint of The Fall. Admittedly, at times the music seemed to be sorting itself out, as several of the tunes lingered too long or had parts that just didn't quite fit together. Nevertheless, I have to say that Tendaberry is doing something different and a little challenging, and I had to applaud them for trying and mostly succeeding. I suspect that as they get a better handle on their sound, the music will seem more organic and their live sets will get even better. Definitely, this is a band I'll be on the lookout for in the future.
Tendaberry do the post-punk/soul thing.
Up next were Pistolero, another local band. It's been a good year and a half since I saw them last, so I have to say I was interested in hearing how their sound has evolved in the intervening time. Back then, when we say the at the Other Sounds festival, I thought that had a nice jangle-pop sound whereas PostLibyan heard more country-esque aspects in their music. On this evening, they came out as a four piece (although I'm not sure if this is a permanent change, since I don't remember their primary vocalist also being the drummer).
From the beginning, it was evident that the slowly psychedelic aspects of their music were the primary focus. The tunes were still quite good, but they weren't as bouncy or upbeat as I recalled. Rather, things seemed more insular and introspective, which perhaps increased the slightly mournful impression I had of their songs. In some ways, it brought to mind what I think Athens band Dead Confederate ought to sound like, although Pistolero retains just enough of that jangle to make them sound peppy.
Pistolero feature keys. That makes them practically a goth band...
As they finished their short set, I thought that this too is another band I'd like to see again, if only so I can determine whether the change in their music and their lineup is indeed a lasting thing.
Finally, at a relatively early hour, the final band in our local music extravaganza, Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun took the stage. This is another band I've seen in the past, although for some reason I had it stuck in my head that they were kind of goth-y. While the band set up, I mentioned this impression to PostLibyan, who quickly informed me that I was mistaken and compared them to early-era Garbage.
They're only happy when it rains.
While this information definitely put to me ease, once Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun began to play, I quickly found myself evaluating each song and thinking "Hmmm….this is a little Garbage-y, but not so much….".
Okay, i admit: with photos like this, they do like kinda goth-y.
This was especially true on the tunes that seemed to be newer, where the music was a bit more electronic and effected, leaving me thinking that the sound was more shoegaze.
Can't play shoegaze without pedals!
Yet on the older tunes, you could still hear that harder, 90s alternative sound. In less accomplished hands, these two distinct style of music could have come across as unfocused. Still, in this band's case, the underlying drumbeats and effected guitars provided a blending point, so that you could definitely identify all songs as being Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun.
Distinctively Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun.
(And from the other angle as well.)
And, looking around me, the crowd was definitely into the music, although they seemed to dance more to the harder sounding tunes. I was pleasantly surprised by this band, and think that they, of all the acts we saw this evening, are ones who should become part of my concert going repertoire (so to speak).
Never always good.
For my first all local show of 2009 (coming some 4 months into the year), this evening was a good one. As I mentioned, I'm really impressed by the potential of Tendaberry whilst Pistolero has clearly undergone a musical evolution since I last saw them. But in the end Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun were the best band on stage and clearly showed it by highlighting some of the most enjoyable electronic indie rock I've heard in a good long time.
One last shot of the bassist being goth-y for you.