an Atlanta band who we here at EvilSponge have seen and enjoyed
for years, and so it was a given that we'd make it over to
The EARL for their long-awaited CD release show. Furthermore,
the bill promised to be an odd, but interesting one. I had
never seen opening act The Sweetloves, but I have heard good
reviews of their music. And the headliner, Gringo Starr, was
the new name of Atlanta stalwarts A
Fir Ju Wel, who I had not
seen in years.
Brandon from The Sweetloves thoughtfully pointing out the location
of the exit
at The EARL. The Sweetloves are all about the
Shortly after we arrived, The Sweetloves took the stage.
Playing a combination of raunchy early blues rock with a dash
of 70s style hard rock, I immediately recognized most of the
band members from other Atlanta bands like Ocelot,
The Titanics, and The
45s. Musically, depending on the song, I mentally compared
them to early Rolling Stones, Highway to Hell-era
AC/DC, or perhaps The
Faces. All in all, they were a quite competent
band who seemed to be having a great deal of fun on stage, and
they pulled off a faithful cover of Brown Sugar at the
end of their set. Not bad at all.
Renne from Envie contemplates the harp.
Then it was time for Envie. They don't seem to play around
much anymore, and feature a revolving cast of musicians centered
around vocalist/keyboardist/harpist Renee Nelson. On this evening,
drummer Kevin Wallace laid down a fast, hard beat whilst bassist
Susannah Barnes maintained a thudding accompaniment. As usual,
Nelson's voice and keyboards held up the high end, and provided
a focal point for the music.
Envie in action.
The biggest difference between
the recorded Envie and the live version revolved around the
addition of guitarist Keith Lee. He provided some nicely
intricate guitarwork without the frenetic effects of previous
guitarist Chris Hoke. This gave Envie a cleaner sound overall,
and allowed the various parts (especially the bass) to come
to the forefront. Most importantly, in total, this show highlighted
the many good things about Envie, and hopefully encouraged
audience members to pick up a copy of their
self-titled debut album.
Guitarist Keith Lee, the newest member of Envie.
After Envie left the stage, the headliner took a good long
time to set up. Admittedly, I hadn't seen Gringo Starr since
they changed their name; in fact, I hadn't seen them as A Fir
Ju Wel for even longer. I'm not sure why, but the previous
times I'd heard them, I always thought them somewhat precious,
in a kind of sense that The Music Tapes were. Furthermore,
the new name "Gringo
Starr" causes me, at least, to wince painfully. But despite
the history and the new name, on this evening, I rather enjoyed
them. Although the musicians still changed instruments on a
regular, and occasionally unneeded basis (see "precious", above),
the songs had a nice, poppy jangle.
Gringo Starr in action.
And I have to admit that
the constant touring of the past few years have turned Gringo
Starr into a tight musical unit. In fact, it seems to me
that the band is less like a quirky, Muppet Show influenced
house band and more like Elf Power, who have managed to harness
their oddities into something that is both listenable and
interesting. I'd like to see them again at some point, just
so I can determine if my pleasure was really from them, or
was rather a hold over from my general liking of the previous
Thoughtful keyboarding in Gringo Starr.
At the end of the night, I do have to admit that it was a strange bill, with three bands that musically have little in common. Yet, each band was filled with competent musicians who clearly take pleasure in performing in their distinctive style. So, when you look at it that way, I think it was a success, and I certainly had a good time.
PostLibyan: Another shot that i adore: the guitarist
This picture was taken with a short exposure
and no flash, and really
shows the deep red lights at The EARL.
I think this is a beautiful shot.