It was a rather warm December evening and, after
suffering through the winter cold from Hell, I decided to wander
out to The EARL. I mean, why not? The first openers, Atlanta
band Ruvolo, are a local group who are relatively new to the
scene, but quite promising. And although I hadn't heard of the
middle band, headliners Dropsonic are another group who I have
enjoyed before. Admittedly this was a
long long time ago, but I will always remember the lead
singer's response to a heckler in which he said, "Why don't
you get up here and show us all your marketable skill!"
Anyway, shortly after I got to The EARL, Ruvolo took the stage.
They're a 5 piece, consisting of drums, bass, two guitarist/vocalists,
and one guy who switches between keyboards and saxophone. It's
hard to characterize their music. In the past, I've thought
they reminded me a bit of Luna meets perhaps later Archers
of Loaf. However, on this evening it seemed like their mix
had less guitar and vocals than previously. Instead, the focus
concentrated on almost pretty melodies (usually found on the
keys or sax) which contrasted with a central, slightly funky
However, the above description is too simple. Since the mix
was quite clear, and you could hear every instrument, it was
easy to determine that oftentimes the melodies were doubled
by one of the guitars. On one song I could swear the bass held
the primary melody. Either way, it's really neat to hear a band
where you can't say that one instrument is any more or less
important than the others. And, more importantly, I'm liking
this new cohesion I'm hearing with Ruvolo.
After Ruvolo's set, the next band came on. They were called Traindodge, and are apparently a touring band who are friends with the headliners. Musically, they are a four piece who play very low-end heavy guitar rock with lots and lots of pedals (o.k., actually I think the bassist had the most pedals…Weird!). Either way, it seemed like their music recalled some of the harder modern rock sounds of the late 90s, albeit with a punk edge. In fact, you could argue that this was the original genesis of "emo" - angular, intense, bass heavy punk. Furthermore, the best thing about Traindodge was their drummer. He also focused on the low end and managed to keep everything in line and moving along (and added in a few tempo changes to boot). So, for their genre, Traindodge was rather good.
Then, it was time for Dropsonic. As mentioned at the beginning,
I've seen them before, but truth be told, other than a vague
notion of liking them, I couldn't remember anything specific
about their sound. But when they began to play all thoughts
left my brain due to their loudness (not as loud as the middle
band, mind you, but certainly loud enough to leave my ears ringing).
Still, this three piece plays pretty much straight-up rock and
roll, albeit in a catchy The Replacements kind of way. Everything
seemed to be mixed fairly well: from where I stood, you could
hear all three instruments, as well as the vocals, quite clearly.
There was a strong focus on the bass and drums, but that acted
in contrast to the vocals, so it was all good. Nevertheless,
by this time, my recent illness was beginning to wear, so, somewhat
disappointed in myself, I left after 5 or 6 songs.
Taken as a whole it was a good and enjoyable evening. I've really come to like Ruvolo. They've become a very solid band that interacts off each other musically as a cohesive group. Traindodge were talented, and really got a good crowd response. Finally, Dropsonic may not seem particular different, but they are a great rock-n-roll band. Not bad for an evening on which I'd originally thought about staying home.