Weirdly enough, the only time i had seen either of these acts before, they played on the same bill in this same order. A strange coincidence.
This time, i showed up at The EARL at 9:40 and was shocked (SHOCKED! I say) to see that first act Negreda had not only already played, but they had also already geared out as well. In fact, Fin Fang Foom were setting up as i walked in.
As FFF were setting up, i noticed the logo on their guitar amp. The only thing i could
think of upon seeing this was
"Emperor Amps: Hand crafted by Senator Palpatine on The Death Star.
Amplify your music with the power of the Dark Side." Yes, i am a geek...
This is a three piece power trio from North Carolina. The vocalist/bassist also has a keyboard, and the guitarist had a respectable pedal board, but other than that they were a rather simple lineup.
FFF setting up.
I remember that i enjoyed their set last time. I enjoyed it so much i bought their record Texture, Structure, and the Conditions of Moods. I have listened to it many times, and it is a good NC math rock record.
Tonight though, Fin Fang Foom played off of their new album, Monomyth. And they were amazing. The guitarist played in an overdriven frenzy, thrashing his guitar around and making a loud, buzzing racket.
FFF guitarist in pedal stomping action.
The drummer was in the back keeping a brisk pace, really moving the songs along while still playing some complex patterns.
FFF bass/keys in action.
Over this, the bassist plucked away at his instrument while also occasionally pressing a few keys on the keyboard and keeping up a steady vocal line just under the roar of the music.
Singing is hard.
It was glorious. At times they reminded me of Polvo, or Angels of Epistemology, or Corrosion of Conformity, or Jesu. This was loud, heavy music with a hint of anger at the edges. I let myself be immersed in it, and i enjoyed the heck out of their 40 minute set. Damn, this band has gotten even better! Needless to say, i picked up a copy of their latest album as well.
Now, i would have been perfectly content had the night ended here. Fin Fang Foom played wonderfully, but i was still curious to see how The Mercury Program would compare to my memory of them.
Most akward sound check ever.
Well, as the band set up i was again struck by their similarity to Tortoise, and by that i mean that they have a Rhodes organ and a vibraphone, both of which are large instruments that dominate the physical space on the stage.
Wait, is this a Tortoise show?
The Mercury Program are a four-piece, with a bassist, drummer, and guitarist playing alongside the keyboardist. I would have to say that they are the midway point between Tortoise and Maserati. The guitar is echoed a la Maserati, but the rhythms are complex a la Tortoise.
The Mercury Program in action.
In fact, i really liked what their bassist was doing. The bass sound was subtle and almost jazzy, and meshed perfectly with the organ and the heavily echoed guitar.
They sounded amazing tonight at The EARL. I don't know who was running sound, but it was crisp and clear and spacious. Given the amount of things going on with the band, i.e., dense organ and waves of guitar, you would think the music would be dense.
The Mercury Program realize that the floor of the EARL's stage
is not the cleanest place.
But it was not dense at all, instead despite the amount of notes that were played, it was as if each note was given the space it needed to grow and develop on it's own. This created a wide open sound that echoed through The EARL magnificently.
It is very difficult to photograph drummers,
but i like the way this one turned out.
I am not familiar enough with The Mercury Program catalog to tell you what songs they played. At the start of certain tunes some people in the crowd cheered, and there were a few that seemed familiar even to me. Whatever they played was gorgeous though.
So, my overall verdict is that both bands continue to impress. I already look forward to the next time they tour together and play Atlanta.