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  THE LIVERHEARTS w/ The Close, The Orphins, and Eyes to Space  
  The Echo Lounge  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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There are certain benefits to being a regular at the local venues. If it's a weekend night, you're guaranteed to run into tons of people you know. The guy checking IDs only marginally glances at your drivers license. The bartender always serves you quickly, no matter how crowded the bar is. And the door girl doesn't bother to stamp your hand. But, most importantly, you're already familiar with the local bands, so you know that a good night of music is to be had.

In fact, on this night, the only real wild card was the first band, Eyes to Space. I knew nothing of them, except for the fact they are from Chapel Hill, so I didn't know what to expect. Oddly enough, even after they played, I wasn't sure what to expect. They were a four piece with drums, guitar, keyboard, and bass/keyboard. In and of itself, that might not sound so strange, but the music they played was something to behold. First off, the guitarist seemed like he learned to play by watching too much Eddie Van Halen. By this I mean that, during the songs, he managed to work in that extremely quick and proficient guitarwork one more normally associates with Van Halen, et a as opposed to the standard Indie Rock farel. Next, the keyboardist/ vocalist played a keyboard which was modified (not constructed) to be worn from a guitar strap. Taken together, along with the bassist (who flipped to keyboard) and punk-ish drumming, the music sounded like Devo meets The Squalls. And, surprisingly, it was good.

After Eyes to Space's set, The Orphins quickly set up on The EARL's tiny side stage. Normally, unless it's a festival, no-one plays the side stage, probably because there aren't any monitors and only a rudimentary PA, so the sound's kinda dodgy. Anyway, on this evening, The Orphins sounded quite good, although the guitars were perhaps a little too loud. Mostly, they played songs off their album, but they also did my favorite song by them, an icily perfect, Wire-esque tune called Tundra. As I looked around, I realized we weren't the only ones getting into their set. We were surrounded by several regulars, who were dancing along to the music. That's a little strange if you think about it: the biggest Indie Rock dance band in Atlanta plays angular new wave (in the old school sense) music that's rather fast paced. I can't disagree because The Orphins are, quite frankly, that good in concert.

At that point in the evening, I honestly thought The Liverhearts were next. However, I turned around from the side stage to see The Close setting up. On this evening, they were their usual four piece, although they had a temporary drummer, Greg Stevens of Hex Error. This substitution had two effects on The Close's set. First off, Greg's mom was in the crowd, and the band discussed it at length. More importantly, the addition of this harder rocking drummer gave The Close's music a new-found strength.

This energy reminded me of why The Close are also one of my favorite Atlanta bands. Although some of their music sounds vaguely the same, each song is a held together by the strength of their backline, over which the guitar holds the melody and the keyboard usually adds accents. This was clearly in evidence when they played Diane Don't Dive. And, if the evening had ended at that point, I think I would have been content.

But, we had another band to go: The Liverhearts. Per pre-show conversation, this was the last show of the original lineup. Apparently one member is going away to school. I've seen them twice before, and liked them. And on this evening, despite the late hour, and the band's apparent intoxication, they too put on an enjoyable set. Postlibyan thinks they sound like a classic emo band, taking a hint of Fugazi, a dash of Slint, and a generous portion of melody. In fact, PostLibyan thinks it is their melodic sense that makes them stand out from the emo crowd. I bow to his expertise in the genre, but to my mind, The Liverhearts seem like the natural successors to the late Paper Lions. They're still young and a little sloppy, but I think that with a little time, they may well reach that type of sound.

Anyway, although, on the surface, this could have been another night of the same old stuff, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The Orphins certainly show that they are one of the best live Atlanta bands these days, while The Close managed to reinvigorate my enthusiasm for their music. In the meantime, Eyes to Space offered something a little offbeat and different, while The Liverhearts planted themselves as a band to watch for in the future.

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The Liverhearts and The Orphins performed together just a month and a half before this show, and it was reviewed by a different reviewer, just to provide a different perspective.


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