Friday, March 12, 2004

"In case you didn't feel like showing up.."

Pre-Comment Bonus to Mike, who I am sure, gets the above reference.

I'm going to switch the subject to music for a bit. Last night, the Phantasy hosted a show featuring two of my favorite regional bands:
Furnace St.
ThouShaltNot
Joining them was Chicago act, Urn.

Furnace St. opened the show with their unique blend of electronics and indie-rock. Their set consisted of mainly of new material, off of their upcoming album. It was all surprisingly subdued. Except for a brief shift into tweaky dance music, the songs were mellow and controlled, even a bit ballad-esque as times. There was very little of Adam's trademark tongue or butt waggling going on. Despite this, I really liked the direction they were going in and look forward to hearing the completed album.

Urn took the stage next. Their main issue was that, once they got onstage, they wouldn't leave. Their set stretched on for well over an hour, which is, to me, a bar limit for a band on weeknight, even if I liked the music. I hate to give a struggling band a bad review. They obviously have a lot of drive and more power to them for sticking their heads out there and making a go of it. But....look, the 80's are over. Please put your flying V guitar, Sebastian Bach hairdo and pseudo-pirate jacket back in the closet and walk towards the light. And while you are at that, please please, do not do jumping jacks onstage. It didn't work for Front242; it's not going to work for you.
If someone has once told this to Urn, things might have been better. I don't doubt their technical prowess, it's the execution of that into heavy, cock-rockin' goth metal that turned me off. Once a Cleveland act, halfway through the set, I realized I knew this band from previous incarnations. At one point, they even did a reprise of a song from one of these old bands they used to be. The last time I heard that song; it was about 10 years ago. In the same dingy club, breathing in the same stale, smoke filled air. I couldn't believe that, after 10 years, I was still going to there. Worse yet, that nothing had really changed. Sure, the crowd turned in for a newer, younger, set, but at that point, the place felt just as stale as the air.

Last up was ThouShaltNot, who we had the pleasure of opening for at the Symposium last year. This show marked the fourth TSN performance I'd seen. Comparing it to the stellar shows I'd seen in the past, the performance felt a bit uneven. In part, I think various sound elements were to blame. Foo, who normally plays an awesome electric drum set, was constrained to a mic'ed acoustic set. The vocals were also surprisingly dry and something about the overall mix felt a little "off". Maybe I was just standing too close to the stage, but it all contributed to a distinct lack of oomph in the final sound. That's not to say there weren't some amazing points. Among them was a mini-acoustic performance in the middle of their set. For three songs, they switched the backing track off and performed completely live. This mini-set within a set consisted of versions of: "Weakness of Words", "G.L.M" and a new song "Sick". All of which were pulled off really well. The other high point of the night was the final song, "Trial by Fire", a catchy pop-ditty, and probably one of the few to use the word "Pygmalion." The whole audience knew the lyrics by heart and they sang and threw their fists in their air along with the band, building a connection that simply electrified the performance. Less electrifying was their cover of "Wonderwall" which even Alexx admitted was a bit "silly".

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