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  CARISSA'S WIERD w/ Envie  
  The EARL  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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It was a Wednesday night, and I had no business planning to go to a show. But, as surprising as this may seem for me, I really like Atlanta band Envie, with their odd combination of slightly punk drumming, vaguely droning cello, and intensely emphatic keyboards and harp. While other Minions may tend to see this band as a rock-influence chamber-esque ensemble, I feel the energy that swells up from their incredibly focused and intense performances. They tend to play with a precision and passion that I donít witness in many of the bands I see, and itís a quality I certainly appreciate.

Anyway, in short, for those reasons, I decided to go ahead and venture out on a weeknight. So with non-Minion Kurt in tow, I arrived at The EARL just in time for Envie to take the stage. Although occasionally Iíve seen their line-up augmented by extra musicians, on this evening Envie played as a three piece, with drums, cello, and harp/keyboards/vocals. And tonight it seemed like the focus of the set was on the drums, which is likely an effect of the mix in The EARL. Truth be told, I kinda liked this because Envieís newish drummer, Kevin, plays his kit in a strong and determined manner, so that it really drives the energy of the rest of the band. And, honestly, I like good drumming.

However, the sound in The EARL seemed liked something of a zero-sum game. With the drums so loud, Deisha Oliverís cello came across as really low in the mix, so it was more of an understated drone than normal. Nevertheless, Renee Nelsonís harp and voice remained towards the fore-front of everything. Normally I donít like hearing too much vocals but, in Nelsonís case her voice acts primarily as another instrument, so it isnít distracting or overwhelming. So, despite a few minor mistakes (which Iím sure werenít noticeable to most in the crowd), Envieís set came across as energetic and compelling, like the best of their music, although it seemed a bit short. Still that may have been merely my perceptions, since I was enjoying their set, and especially the drumming, so very much. And at the end, even the attending non-Minion was impressed, and thought he might like to see them again.

So, after that set, I wasnít sure what to expect next. I had heard little about the next band, Seattleís Carissaís Weird. But when I looked up and saw a 6 piece band take the stage, I figured it would likely be interesting. From the beginning, I found their music to be very slow and melodic, without being either plodding or meandering. I particularly found the violinís interplay with the guitars to be oddly soothing and also liked the understated tone of it all. It always surprises me how 6 people can sound so rich and full musically, while still seeming so minimalist when you actually focus on the components of the songs.

As Carissaís Weirdís set progressed, I began to appreciate the soothing vocal interplay of the male vocalist with the female back up. In some ways, the slight twang of Mat Brookeís voice combined with the overall tone to remind me vaguely of Gram Parsons, or perhaps, more importantly, of Aaron Blount (from Knife in the Water). Like Blount, Brookeís voice isnít absolutely perfect, but it works within the context and flow of the backing music and becomes something quite beautiful. In short, I was absolutely blown away by Carissaís Weird, and I was certain Iíd made an excellent choice by coming out to see them.

However, as Carissaís Weirdís set came to a close, my non-Minion companion pointed out that it was, in fact, a week night and that he, at the least, had to get up early to work. So, after a few minutes of debate, we decided to leave. And that meant I never got to hear the ostensible head liners, Mantissa. Now, Mantissa are a local band about whom Iíve heard a great deal (pretty much all of it a glowing), and I was really looking forward to seeing them for the first time. However, I suspect that leaving was, in the end, a good choice, for I doubt anything could have topped the performances of the first two bands.

Related Links:

Here is another recent Envie performance, enjoyed by a different Minion.


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