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THE WEDDING PRESENT w/ Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves and Tentonic



  The EARL  

East Atlanta, GA

Reviewed by:
  Malimus and PostLibyan  
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:



The alarm squawks at 8:01 PM. Normally the alarm is weather and traffic and Atlanta’s Morning News. Tonight, it’s Michael Savage yawping as alarmingly as possible about port security. Jesus, people listen to this shit? Somewhere in Midtown Tracers, P-Lib and the rest of the Get Fresh Crew are settling down for some bitching Thai. Had originally planned to join, but realized late in the game that I’m lame, I live in the suburbs, and I’m getting too old for this shit. Chose to dine in, nap instead. I need naps prior to shows these days. Sweet baby Jesus, what has become of me?

It is 8:25 and I’m still wiping sleep from my eyes. Mrs. Malimus is ready and we’re headed out the door. I think of coffee too late.

400 is clear, as is the Connector. One of the benefits of napping through dinner is you avoid Friday evening traffic. We cruise at 70 from Roswetta to 20, dump off on Moreland a little after 9. Ring up the peeps to triangulate as we pull into East Atlanta Village. They’re still in Midtown. It’s an EARL show. We have time to kill.

We slide into Joe’s, a nifty little coffee bar half a block up Flat Shoals from the EARL. God in Heaven be praised, there is caffeine in my future. Joe’s is locally owned and operated. If you’re in the area and you’re jonesing for the dark roast, drop in. Free WiFi if you need it. Tonight they have Sumatra. Things are looking up. Liz calls around 9:30 as they’re parking. I down the dregs and we head down the block.

The EARL is packed tonight. The front bar is five folk thick, and every table is jammed full. This is odd. Tracers and P-Lib are fighting through for the traditional first beer of the night. Can hardly see through the smoke. Did The Wedding Present bring their very own English pub, complete with inch thick haze? The Auburn contingent is here tonight, so it's a full on Sponge gathering. Old school night out. For The Wedding Present, we all crawl out of the woodwork. Mrs. Malimus, Liz, and I skip the poured pint and push through to the back room.

There’s a line, a queue, down the hall from the front to back, at the freaking EARL? WTF? We check our names at the door (pre-sales from the website) and suddenly the packed front room becomes more understandable. Posted on the doors, “Tonight’s show is a non-smoking event.” We brush into the back room and both metaphorically and quite literally, all becomes clear. Somewhere in the back of my head. I think I’m recalling something about David Gedge doing this. Not sure. It could be a false memory, a created factoid to make sense of the utterly unexpected, smoke-free concert stage at the EARL. It takes some getting used to and is completely bewildering, but I’m not complaining. There’s plenty of room at the back bar, and in the words of a wise indie rocker PBR is “a surprisingly good beer.” On the way I run into Alex, tonight’s promoter and generally great guy. Haven’t seen Alex out since, what, the Karl Hendricks show at the now-defunct Echo Lounge? Christ, I have to get out more. [Brendan’s Note: Karl played The Echo is September of 2003. Yes, you do need to get out more.]

Our traditional pole (center of the room between stage and bar, excellent sound mix) is occupied. We move over to the art-wall and stake out a space. T & P and the rest of the space cadets will be joining soon.

Fifteen minutes pass, and the first opener takes the stage. The upside of an Alex show is that he actually presses the venue to start at a reasonable time. This is one of those things you won’t truly appreciate until you’re lame, live in the suburbs, and are getting too old for this shit.

Tentonic is fronted by a British singer, but the rest of the band looks like they could be local Atlanta. The rhythm section is competent, straight walking bass coupled with standard back beat percussion. Nothing stands out immediately, but they’re new and not bad. Lyrics are a syrup, vocals pushed way too far up in the mix, a common problem with bands establishing themselves. Lead singer seems a bit pre-occupied with being the lead singer, full of his own import. I’m digging the guitar work. Usually this sort of delay and effects drenched stuff is more of P-Lib’s bag, but it’s working for me tonight. The set is short, and I spend most of it paying attention to the guitarist. They close with their best riff of night, in the form of an up-tempo rocker with a real, honest to goodness hook. Tentonic should try to write more songs like this set’s closer. The world doesn’t really need another Coldplay spin-off. The world needs more riffs like this.


Wow, Malimus, I am surprised that you enjoyed Tentonic that much. I was moderately impressed, and have the sense that the band could become something very worthwhile if they continue to develop. I must point out that it is far too soon in The Music Cycle for a Shoegazer Revival, so the band is a bit of an oddity. The vocalist and rhythm section seem to owe a debt to Catherine Wheel (they influenced people?), while the African-American guitarist seemed to really want to play like Nick McCabe, and he did a passable job of achieving a Verve-ish whirl of sound. Overall, not bad at all. Perhaps the sound issues, which mixed the guitars down and the voice up, hurt their sound. No matter. I would go see them again.


The second band is the touring opener for The Wedding Present, Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves. The band is tight -- a straight, New Wave inspired pop band as far as I can tell, with a very minimalist sound, which is something different at least. Crewe sings and carries the guitar, mostly a two-string strum trick that keeps you from having to actually chord. I don’t begrudge her this. There’s a bassist, a keyboardist and a drummer. These, I assume, are the Sudden Moves, which seems ironic considering how immobile they are on stage. Halfway into the set, Crewe notices that she’s not really connecting with the crowd and utters the night’s best line. “Thank you, thank you for your very polite clapping.” I’m not sure what she’s expecting. Indie rockers don’t dance. You’d think a touring act would know this. This set is long, ten, twelve songs or more, probably the set they play when they don’t have an invited local act warming up the warm up. The problem is that by the third song I’ve heard everything I’m going to hear from this band. Everything else sounds the same. The entire set is devoid of a hook. Somewhere through, Tracers calls her “a female Rick Springfield” and Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves are forever marked. They should have stopped four songs ago. The crowd isn’t here for opening acts.

It is midnight when The Wedding Present take the stage. I think P-Lib keeps a track list.


Actually, i was noting that they started off with one of their best tunes, the epic Corduroy. Great start to the show.


My initial thought isn’t with cataloguing what they play. Rather I think to myself, “Sweet glorious hallelujah, hooks!” The Wedding Present exhales hooks as a side effect of breathing. Clearly there is a huge emphasis on lyrical word play, storytelling, etc, et al, but in the end, a live show lives or dies on hooks. If you don’t generate them, you don’t hold the crowd. The Wedding Present pull hooks out of thin air. I begin to formulate my third law of indie rock: for every show X, there exists a real integer N which defines the number of hooks available for distribution to the various acts. Certain bands, such as any band involving David Gedge, create a sort of black hole into which virtually all hooks collapse. Tonight, only the opening riff of Tentonic’s closing number escapes. All others are consumed by the weight of the Gedge horizon.

They open with older material. Initial impression is that 90% of the crowd has heard nothing but Take Fountain. Only six people dancing. Remember later that indie rockers don’t dance. Will never understand how anyone can go to a show like this and not pogo. For the love of God, people, all you do is bounce in place to the down beats.


I actually disagree with Malimus’ assessment of the crowd’s familiarity with The Wedding Present. The few other people I chatted with there remembered the band from the mid 90s, and were surprised to hear that they had a new album out. I think this is supported by the fact that all of the yelled song requests from the crowd were for older tunes, with Brassneck and Montreal being the two most requested.


I love this band. Memories of Superchunk back in the day. I pogo, albeit not too exuberantly; would hate to impose upon the self-referential moping of the solipsistic kiddies. One day they’ll wake up. Would that all rock shows are this energetic, this fun, this exuberant. Would that all songwriters were David Gedge. It’s a pleasant fantasy for an hour or so.


The Wedding Present played for 80 minutes, David Gedge and company on stage sweating their way through a veritable Greatest Hits set. Of course, they could have played another two hours and not run out of great Gedge-penned tunes. Some high points include Suck which was introduced by Gedge as "a song that might just be about oral sex" (really?) and a blistering version of the early tune (and personal favorite) Don’t Talk Just Kiss. They also played the obligatory Brassneck, Gedge sarcastically commenting, "Could there be any more requests for this next song?" And they ended with Heather, bringing us back to their crowning achievement, Seamonsters.

I do have one comment to make about the sound. Specifically, the mix tonight wasn’t all that loud, and it was vocal heavy with slightly muted guitars. It was the perfect mix for The Wedding Present, allowing the subtlety of the guitarwork to dance around Gedge’s poetic lyrics to great effect. It was really wonderful, but at first i was somewhat disappointed. I realized why shortly thereafter -- when i listen to The Wedding Present it is usually while cruising down the highway with the music turned all the way up; or on the stereo as i bounce around my apartment doing household chores, again with tremendous volume. I think music this catchy and good should be played loud: a hook, a poem, and a great beat blaring so as to drown out the mundanity of the world. Gedge apparently prefers more balance to the noise he creates, and i grew to appreciate that. I think the mix really worked for The Wedding Present, and Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves also benefited from this particular sound mix, but as i mentioned above, i think it hurt Tentonic's shoegazery blur. Oh well, you can't please everyone i guess.

Overall i have to agree with Malimus: this was one helluva show. I kind of feel sorry for the rest of the bands i will see in 2006: who can live up to a performance such as this?

Related Links:
  PostLibyan reviewed Torino, the final album from Gedge's interim band, Cinerama.

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