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Artists:
  MIDSTATES w/ The Good Players  
 
Date:
  Thursday.9.July.2003  
 
Venue:
  The EARL  
 
Location:
  East Atlanta, GA  
 
Reviewed by:
  Tracers  
         
 
Performance Rating:
   
 
Sound Quality:
   
 
Overall Rating:
   
         
 
Review:
 

Another show in the middle of the week. Normally this isnít a big deal: my real job is pretty flexible, which means I can pretty much take off at will if Iím going to be out late the night before. However, for once I had a full work schedule, and I had no business going to a show on a Thursday. On the other hand, despite the late times and occasional work conflicts, I actually prefer weeknight shows. At my normal venues, the crowds are thinner and the air is less thick with sweat and cigarette smoke during the week. And I always feel a bit sorry for those small touring bands who play in the middle of the week, usually to a sparse crowd.

Such was the case with Midstates, a Chicago band of whom Iíd never heard but who came highly recommended by a trusted source. When I asked around our little group of Minions, PostLibyan was the only who could tell me anything. He basically said that Midstates were sort of a space rock band that sounded a bit like Spaceman 3. Well, I may own a number of Spaceman 3 records, but Iím not a huge fan of the space rock genre. Still, the person who recommended Midstates to me has never led me wrong. So with a slight skepticism in the back of my mind, I decided to take a chance and venture out to The EARL.

When PostLibyan and I got to The EARL, the venue was mostly empty and the first band, apparently called The Good Players, was just getting ready to take the stage. As they took their places, I found myself pondering their somewhat odd lineup. First off, they were a 7 piece -- and one member appeared to be dressed in decontamination suit. Similarly, the instruments that lined the stage consisted not only of the usual guitar, bass, and drums, but also saxophone, trumpet, banjo, and a small purple childís piano shaped like a dinosaur, in addition to other assorted pieces of noise-making equipment. The setup reminded me a little of A Fir Ju Welll meeting Empire State, but with a little more whimsy.

Unsurprisingly, when The Good Players started their first song, my suspicions were confirmed. They began by creating a drone with both the banjo and trumpet, which was then overlaid by rhythmic guitars and drums. However this lulling sound was broken when the vocalist began -- his singing alternated between a soft melodic indie pop style and straight out hardcore screaming. The slightly schizophrenic tone of the music stretched throughout their set. One song had a part where the band implored the audience to play noisemakers and horns. Yet another song had a slow, dreamy Luna-esque feel, which was subsequently shattered by members of the band banging on those assorted pieces of equipment (such as the dinosaur piano). And throughout the set, the various members swapped instruments in a way which did not seem necessary, but rather came across as distracting. As The Good Players reached the end of their somewhat short set, I had to admit that I found the band odd and entertaining, although it would have been a stretch to call them good. Nevertheless, the sheer spectacle was worth the price of admission. And I did find myself paying close attention to their sound, if only so I could hear what chaos the band would engender next.

With such an unusual opening act, I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of coming to see Midstates. Yet when they finally took the stage, they certainly didnít sound like I had expected. PostLibyan immediately thought they sounded a bit like Spiritualized. But as for me, I couldnít quite classify them. The two guitarists had many many guitar pedals between them, and yet they didnít create an impenetrably loud wall of sound and effects. Instead the focal part of the sound (which may have been due to the mix at The EARL) seemed to be the keyboards and drums. Perhaps I paid the most attention to these parts because those individual musicians involved were extremely talented. The drummer played with a wildness that seemed, at time, to teeter on the border of control. Similarly, the keyboardist rocked out while playing, reminding me a little of footage Iíve seen of Jerry Lee Lewis in his heyday. Over all this, the singer projected almost quiet vocals that seemed propelled by the sounds behind him, as opposed to guiding those sounds. In short, the music had a great beat, the musicians seemed to be throwing everything into the show, and I was happy listening to those shoegazer-y guitars and vocals played out over a wall of reverb and echo and keyboards.

After Midstates finished playing, I was quite happy and ready to hang out even later to see the headliner, Good Friday Experiment. However, I remembered (and PostLibyan reminded me) that it was a Thursday, and I had to work in the morning. Knowing Good Friday Experiment are a local band whom Iíve seen before and will likely encounter again at some point, we decided to go ahead and leave. Besides, in retrospect, I had been so impressed by Midstates that seeing and writing about anyone else would be unfair.

 
         
 
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