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  The EARL  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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It's time for my semi-annual discussion of the wonders of The Deathray Davies. This Dallas, Texas band is easily one of my favorite live groups, and these days I try to catch every one of their infrequent Atlanta appearances. Unfortunately, for reasons known but to The Touring Gods, they always play Atlanta on a weeknight, which has the side effect of making them not as well known as they ought to be.

Luckily for me, although the show was on a Tuesday night, The EARL's doors opened at 9 and the first band began shortly thereafter. I've noticed this weeknight change in The EARL recently: it is the only one of my usual venues which is making an effort to start concerts at an earlier time. I like the change; even though the shows still run later than I'd like (considering I have to work at my real job the next day), it's much nicer to see the headliner on by midnight and done by 1 or 1:30 am or so.

Anyway, I hadn't picked up on the earlier start time, so when I got to The EARL around 10:15 , the first band (whose name I do not know) had already finished and the middle band, The Whigs, were already setting up. More importantly, I looked around the back room of The EARL and a nice crowd had already formed. This was much better than the previous time I had seen The Deathray Davies, when they played to perhaps 15 or 20 people.

I've heard of The Whigs, but I had never seen them until this night. Many of my friends in Athens recommended this young band highly. Once they began playing, I liked the four piece Whigs. Playing fairly straight-up instrumentation (guitar/guitar/bass/drums), they reminded me a bit of The Pixies with more guitar hooks and less yelling. At times during the set, the lead singer dropped his guitar and went to play keyboards. Those songs had more of a psychedelic edge, with longer instrumental parts and an almost jam feel to them (which is perhaps natural, considering the band is from Athens). However, I preferred the original straight-up instrumentation, with "The Pixies meets The Archers of Loaf" songwriting and pop vocals carrying everything along. All in all, for such a young band, they were quite enjoyable, and I think I'd like to see them again in the future.

After The Whigs finished, the crowd thinned a little bit (which suggests that others had also heard favorable things about The Whigs), and The Deathray Davies took the stage. Their set was quite reminiscent of the one they played earlier this year, also at The EARL. They played my favorites off their 2002 album, Day of the Ray, including The Medication's Gone, They Stuck Me in a Box in the Ground Part 4, The Aztec God, and Persuasive Is Your Name. Furthermore, they showed off the new quicker songs from their most recent outing, Midnight at the Black Nail Polish Factory. For instance, I Regret the Day I Tried to Steal Daniel's Ego moved along at a faster pace, with less of the reverb and production echo found on the album. Likewise, The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower had a power and distinction to it that the striped down album version couldn't match. In fact, most of the songs they played (including earlier material which I had heard previously) showed off the professionalism and tight musicianship of The Davies, and reminded me why I think they are one of the best touring band I've seen in a long time.

The highlight of The Davies' set was a new song, theoretically untitled, although lead singer John Dufilho called it Chainsaw. This began with the soon-to-be-immortal lines, "I bought a chainsaw at the pawnshop/ It cuts real good, chop chop chop." As I stood there laughing and dancing (the song is quite catchy, in a typical Davies-esque way), the vague creepiness of the song and its chorus ("I'm coming for you") began to register. This is likely a result of the fact that The Davies asked for the soundguy to turn off all overhead lights so that the band played lit by strips of lights draped over the instruments, the amps, and the musicians. The visual effect (combined with the inherent weirdness of Chainsaw) was eerie, and yet somehow appropriate for The Davies, who focus more on their music than on displays of virtuoso musicianship.

Finally, after a long set that included the band asking for requests from the audience, The Davies finished with the song that is more or less their anthem. Is This On is the quintessential song by this band with crunchy guitars, fundamentally important keyboards, and a dance-along melody. As they finished, I stood around for a moment to catch my breath and think of how much I really love watching this band. Then I headed home, humming in my head, and began to count the months until The Deathray Davies return again.

Related Links:

Midnight at the Black Nail Polish Factory, the latest album by The DeathRay Davies.
The Deathray Davies live earlier in 2003.
The Deathray Davies live in 2002.


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