We got a late start this evening, so when Sparklehonkey and i arrived at the crowded EARL at 10:15, Atlanta's The Silent Kids were playing. Apparently we missed the first half of their set. Please note that i am not complaining here. I am all for earlier start times for shows. I just need to make sure to run on time...
Anyway, i end up seeing The Silent Kids every few months, and i must say their
music is becoming catchier and poppier as they continue to play
out. Tonight was no exception, as they played a set of toe-tapping
tunes that really seemed to get the crowd going. Two songs stood
out, the first of which was introduced as a Gram Parsons cover
and was sung with a hint of twang in the voice. During this
tune, the keyboardist fiddled with a laptop and played random
percussion instruments (including cowbell!). This actually worked
really well, blending the country feel with a slightly electronica
element. The second standout was also the last song of their
set and featured the guitarist/vocalist and the bassist switching
positions. There were lots of weird electronica sounds coming
from the laptop, as the keyboardist mostly stood their sipping
her PBR and watching "the boys" rock out. And rock out they
did, ending the song with a nice, pedal heavy guitar freak-out.
This really reminded me of the one time i saw Space
Crime Quintet years ago, not just because of the similar
sound, but also because the bassist in The Silent Kids (who
was playing guitar on this song) was also the frontman of that
other group. Fun.
After a very short intermission, the middle act took the stage. Zykos are a 5-piece from Austin, TX, consisting of keyboards, two guitars, bass and drums. Although, really, the one guitarist spent more time singing than playing his guitar, which is fine, especially seeing as he really emoted up there on stage. He was shaking and flailing his arms around. Vocally, he reminded me very slightly of Paul Westerberg, or the early work of Eric Bachman in Archers of Loaf. Overall Zykos are a pop-band with nice piano melodies. Their sound was sparse -- the guitarist(s) didn't insist on playing too many notes, and the rhythm was subtle. I can't really compare them to any band, although there were hints of dozens of pop acts in their set. They combined all of their influences in a way that seemed fresh and exciting. I really enjoyed their set, and would recommend their live show.
By this point in time The EARL was insanely packed, and, when i came back from the front bar with our draught beers (when are they going to install taps in the music room?), there was a sign on the door saying the show was Sold Out. Sold out! At the EARL! Weird. Apparently Explosions in the Sky really bring out the kids. So the place was packed, and it was an odd crowd. There were hippies and math rockers and indie rockers, all packed in together and sweating. It was a young crowd too. I suppose that EitS have been getting good radio play on Album 88, thus bringing out the college age crowd.
The band went on at midnight, and played on a poorly lit stage.
I really couldn't see too much of the actual band, since apparently
their average fan is taller than me. However, they sounded really
good. They play a standard post-rock fair, which is heavy on
the guitars and on rhythm and sonic dynamic shifts. Basically,
they are a Mogwai-damaged
band. It was good, but nothing seemed that noteworthy to me,
nothing raised them from the general mass of such bands (see
also: Gwei-lo, Maserati,
The Mercury Program, Mogwai,
Paik, etc.) However, the
crowd really got into the show. Well, as into it as you can
get at a post-rock show, which basically means that almost everyone
in the crowd stood with their arms crossed, nodding their head
in time to the rhythms (Brendan's Note:
isn't this the definition of post-rock? Everyone stands there
like a postů). It was really weird to see a sea of heads
bobbing in time to the music.
After an hour, the band left the stage, and the crowd cheered
for an encore. One member came out to the mic, and said, "Thanks,
we really appreciate it. But we're pooped. We've been on tour
too long. But we'll be back...." And then he left, presumably
to go backstage and collapse. That was an odd admission from
a touring band, but i for one really appreciated them taking
the time out to explain why there would not be an encore. It
also put the show into a different perspective. That is, i enjoyed
their set even though i can think of a dozen bands that could
put on a show just like it. However, if the band were physically
and mentally exhausted and still played very competently, i
wonder what type of show they would put on if they were well-rested?
At any rate, this was a fun night. A little hot, sweaty, and crowded inside The EARL, but still fun. I would go see any of these acts again, hopefully after they have had a full night's sleep.