I have to confess: before I went to this show I'd never heard the music of
either The Deathray Davies or Centro-Matic. I'd heard vague recommendations about
the bands, but I wasn't sure exactly what they sounded like…or if they'd put on
a decent show. Still, on the evening in question, I was sitting at home feeling
depressed and getting over an illness. In short, I was mopey and down and I needed
to get out of the house. And this concert was my best bet.
From their first notes, I was pleased with Centro-Matic, who (it turns out)
hail from Denton, Texas. The guitar-driven rock (reminiscent of Son Volt, or one
of those slightly twangy bands) immediately caught my attention and drug me out
of my slightly melancholy state. But just when I had this band pegged as another
loud, fun band, Centro-Matic changed the pace by playing some softer, more melodic
ballads. These songs showed a different side of the band, and emphasized the keyboards
and the harmonies of lead singer/songwriter Will Johnson and the keyboardist (whose
name I unfortunately never caught). In their own right, each style was interesting,
entertaining, and well-executed; together, the combination was fairly irresistible
(to me, at least). As their set drew to a close (in too short of a time, in my
opinion), I was suddenly glad I'd decided to come out. This was excellent and
well worth my time - anything the next band could add would just be a bonus.
I wasn't sure what to expect from The Deathray Davies, but based on the name
alone I was expecting a spectacle. Maybe they would be some dark horror-rockabilly
combo? Or perhaps they'd be a goth country band, in the manner of Myssouri?
Either way, I wasn't really expecting a 60s-esque garage rock combo, with a little
80s new wave stylization thrown in. And, as I've stated in past reviews, I'm a
sucker for a garage rock in pretty much any form.
Anyway, suffice to say, the music of The Deathray Davies rocked, and rocked
hard. The fuzz and reverb of the guitars played off the drums in a way to satisfy
the garage rock fan in me. And underneath it all, the sound was propelled and
sustained by this amazing bassist, who wasn't just satisfied to perform the standard
chord-marking of so many musicians. His style and expertise were such that I continually
found myself watching him to the exclusion of the other band members. Still, as
wonderful as all this was, The Deathray Davies added one final touch: a keyboardist.
This person added melodic (in sometimes fruity) touches to most of the songs and,
more importantly, seemed really into the music. Watching him perform (and grab
his beer in perfect time with the music), I could see that this band was having
a good time trying to entertain the rather sparse crowd.
Admittedly, after a few songs, the music started to have a vague same-ness.
And admittedly, the sound at The Earl was such that the vocals were lost in the
wash, although the announced song titles seemed intriguing, in a witty Karl Hendricks
kind of way. Still, in the end, I found this band remarkably interesting and just
plain good. And when it was over, I was almost sad that the music had ended, even
though I hadn't planned to spend the night watching this live show.