TRACERS: Around 10:30 we headed over to The Echo Lounge
to listen to music. First band: Hubcap City. They're great,
POSTLIBYAN: "Great"? I would say, "Whacko, but in an
entertaining kinda way". I enjoyed it okay, but their 30 minute
set was just the right length, any longer and i would have been
ZYTHOS: The word that first came to mind for Hubcap
City was eclectic, but i really think that is a better description
for the percussionist. I was never quite sure what he was going
to pull out of the bag next. I did like when he added the extra
chain to the hubcap to give it a better sound. What he really
needed was a box-wrench set.
TRACERS: Well i think that Bill Taft's quirky singer-songwriter
stuff is just hysterical.
POSTLIBYAN: I laugh at the songs because i have no other
repsonse. It's not quality humor, like on The Simpsons
or anything. It's ... well it's offbeat.
BRILLO: I find Hubcap City humorous in two distinct,
but oddly related ways. First, the "My Life is Shit, So I've
Got the Nails and Wood for My Woeful Demise" sad-itude has a
black, pathetic humor not wholly unlike bad drunken country
music. I always find that funny.
TRACERS: Yeah, I like that Bill Taft doesn't write this
"epic-universal-love-song" crap that most acoustic musicians
write; rather he seems to focus on the odd.
BRILLO: Exactly. Hubcap City's melodies and lyrics were
sophisticated and inventive and display serious talent. The
whole thing reminded me of a white trash, black humor version
of Dylan or Bragg. While I don't think I could listen to this
music for any length of time (especially if I want to avoid
walking in front of speeding cars), it definitely makes for
entertaining live music along the lines of a carnivalesque side
show, much like Deacon Lunchbox.
ZYTHOS: Down with epic-acoustic-love-songs! Yeech!
BRILLO: Yes, nothing annoys me faster than lovelorn
guitar chicks who moan about love, peace, and the environment,
especially when they have the nerve to yell at the audience
for talking during their dreadful sets.
TRACERS: Also, Taft's sense of musical timing and guitar
melody are amazing. Besides, when you've got someone playing
backing percussion on a trash can lid, how can you lose?
BRILLO: That's the second this i find humourous about
the band. That trash-can-cover percussion section must
be done tongue in cheek with a hint of defeatedness. I kept
imagining that poor drummer thinking, "Ah hell, what can it
matter now if I add more metal?" Maybe that's my own projection
of the band's intent. If so, I was highly amused at my own comical
TRACERS: Next up: American
Dream. The last
time I saw them live the mix just sucked. I mean, it wasn't
the band's fault, but the sound really distracted from my enjoyment
of the show. And with the way things started off in The Echo
Lounge, I thought this show was going to be a repeat performance.
The bass and drums were miked way too loud and the backing vocals
were louder than the lead vocals.
ZYTHOS: When I was asked at the concert what i thought
of American Dream, the first thing that came to mind was, they
are not a heavy-metal band and I wish the sound guys
in East Atlanta could get that through their extra thick cro-magnon
skulls. We would like to hear more than just the bass and drums.
I would agree that this concert was several orders of magnitude
better than the incredibly shitty one at The Earl. Once again,
it was the venue/sound guy, not the band (or at least I think
it was since the sound was so atrocious at that show I really
don't know if the band played well). I think American Dream
is a very good band and I would like to see them play a non-rock
venue in Atlanta. I'm sure they would sound good at The Variety
Playhouse or even at The Star Bar, although i'm not sure if
they would all fit on the stage.
TRACERS: Well i thought that for the last 4 or so songs
the sound guy seemed to get things worked out and they sounded
really really good.
POSTLIBYAN: I dunno if i agree here. I heard no cello
whatsoever. Zero. I could see her up there playing away, but
there was no sound coming into the audience.
ZYTHOS: I would agree that the cello was undermixed,
but i did hear it at times.
TRACERS: I don't know -- i could hear the cello -- it's
just that its sound falls directly between the bass and the
drums, so it blends in with them.
POSTLIBYAN: So maybe you didn't hear the cello -- you
just extrapolated it's sound from the bass / drums? Or maybe
you did. My point is that in other performances you could actually
hear the beautiful deep sawing of bow on cello. I didn't hear
that this night. Maybe some of that bass drone was coming from
the cello. Maybe not. The sound was such an unfocused mess that
i couldn't differentiate cello. And that is a criticism in and
of itself -- a criticism of the sound, not of American Dream.
TRACERS: Um, well, I think the point I was trying to
make (badly) was that some of the reason you couldn't hear the
cello is because the bass was ungodly loud.
POSTLIBYAN: This was highly true.
TRACERS: However, I think (and I may be wrong) that
at other times, the reason you can't hear the cello distinctly
is because the band wants the cello to blend into the
background. I certainly think this could be true on the more
drone oriented pieces.
POSTLIBYAN: If that's the case, then it has failed more
often than it has succeeded. Usually, i can hear the cello.
These last 2 shows have been different... If this is the effect
that they are going for, then i disapprove... Another problem
is that the harp was WAY undermiced, especially considering
it is the lead instrument on at least one of the tunes.
ZYTHOS: I thought the harp sounded good in at least
one of the songs toward the end of the show.
POSTLIBYAN: Also, the sax was LOUD at first. I mean
-- they had that thing all the way up...
BRILLO: I think I've decided that most local venues
simply can't handle that much sound. If you're going to have
a bazillion instruments on stage, you should seriously consider
doing an acoustic set.
POSTLIBYAN: So their attempt to push the boundaries
of music just a little by involving non-pop instruments in a
pop band is, you are saying, necessarily wrong and doomed to
failure? I must disagree. the technology at The Echo could handle
their "odd" instrumentation, if somebody (ie, the sound guy)
would exert the effort to try and make it work.
BRILLO: Maybe. However, even a quiet set would need
more mixing expertise than a place like The Echo can afford.
POSTLIBYAN: Again, i disagree. For a good while things
sounded fine at The Echo. Maybe The Echo wasn't paying that
sound guy enough and he left. I dunno. Their sound system is
capable of handing most any sound (Godspeed You Black Emperor!
sounded great there, as did The
For Carnation, both of which use odd instrumentation / sounds),
what is lacking is the knowledge and skill to run the board......
ZYTHOS: I completely agree, it is not the equipment.
Bands like Empire State actually
sound quite good at The Echo. The key is to match the mixing
to the band.
BRILLO: Well, in all honesty, I like the theoretical
idea of what American Dream is trying to do -- bringing together
this interesting mix of sounds -- but I don't think they've
got the balance right. I agree with Kurt (the token non-Minion
in attendance) that they really don't need both a bass and a
cello. I only heard the cello on the last song. However, the
band does have an interesting stage presence because of their
personnel, if nothing else. Rarely do you see a band whose members
all dress so differently and creatively. I liken this band to
a puppy-- very well-meaning with great markings, but possibly
a little too enthusiastic and uncoordinated.
POSTLIBYAN: I dunno Brillo. I like what they are doing,
and when the sound is good it sounds great. However, the problem
is that on this night the sound blew chunks. Typical of The
Echo anymore. What happened to their good sound guy?
TRACERS: True, the sound was bad, but it wasn't nearly
as bad as I was expecting. I mean it's not like they made American
Dream sound like The Donnas or Black Sabbath....
POSTLIBYAN: No it wasn't "Black Sabbath"-bad, but i
am not going to lower my expectations to the point where
a good show is one in which the band doesn't sound like
Black Sabbath. I refuse to concede that sound problems are expected.
TRACERS: That's fair enough. I guess my expectations
were so low regarding the sound that I was surprised the bands
didn't sound worse. Then again, there was loud death-rattle
that confused everyone on the stage.... and they never could
get the drums to sound right.
POSTLIBYAN: Well, again the standard seems to be "level-set
for the headliner, and then everyone else just copes". For this
theory to work, the venue needs to book bands that have the
EXACT SAME instrument lineup... What gets me is that this is
a new thing. For a good while last year The Echo sounded great
all the time. Lately they have sucked all the time. ECHO --
get your shit together people!
TRACERS: Enough about sound. The music was pretty good.
This time, I noticed a new consistency in their music -- the
older material was played in pretty much the same way as the
last times I've seen them. That's a pretty significant advance.
POSTLIBYAN: Are you implying here that they are obviously
rehearsing more often and are becoming more professional? I
would agree with that.
TRACERS: And the new songs (I think there were two of
'em) really emphasized the droney aspects of their sound, although
their drone comes from having all the instruments going really
loudly all at once.
POSTLIBYAN: Yeah. The first tune of their set, Lover
is new. (I heard them say that on the radio earlier that day.)
I liked the song -- the pianowork is really good. On the whole
i say that their development as a band is proceeding nicely
and i continue to be impressed with their music.
TRACERS: Finally: Myssouri, who normally play goth western,
"Satan's honky tonk" kind o' stuff. Now maybe it was my lack
of sleep but it seemed like their set really really dragged,
especially on the new slower material. Even though they only
played for 45 minutes or so, it seemed much longer than that.
ZYTHOS: There was one song in the middle of the set
that really dragged on. All I could think of was that this really
was "Death among the Tumbleweeds".
POSTLIBYAN: Yeah -- i think they played 10 songs, 9
of which were new. YAWNNNNN!!!!! That much new stuff all at
once = boring. And Tracers is right -- all of the new stuff
is too slow for the loud guitar-heavy lineup they now have.
ZYTHOS: Evidently most of the audience agreed with you
and left early. There might have been a dozen people left at
the end and our group was 5 of them.
TRACERS: Furthermore, although I like some of the newer
songs, they really have changed their sound with this iteration
of the band. They seem much heavier over all.
ZYTHOS: We obviously know who the sound was set-up for!
The heavier sound worked on one or two of the songs but seemed
out of place on others. I really think Myssouri is a band searching
for both a sound and an audience.
BRILLO: Alright, I am the one who wrote that
really great review of Myssouri for their April performance
at The Echo Lounge, so I had looked forward to this show
immensely. Frankly, I'm pretty disappointed. One of Myssouri's
strengths has been its ability to mix layers of sound perfectly,
and they can generally replicate that mix onstage (their set
at WRAS-fest was really
tight). However, this show, "introducing" the band's new material,
seemed to ignore that strength, choosing to pair down to guitar-heavy
melodies. The band seems to be going "electric" a la The Cult,
and like The Cult, it ain't workin'.
Furthermore, Michael Bradley's sunglasses and hat reflected
the self-involved attitude of the entire set. The band acted
as if they wanted to show off their loud guitars more than play
their songs -- self-idulgent bland rock much like Yo
La Tengo's show last fall. Add this to the achingly slow
pace of most new tunes, and "whiny drone" (loud whiny drone)
seems the most appropriate description. And, again, I make this
criticism as someone who has listened to their CDs innumerable
times over the last month. I am not enthused about the musical
prospects of Myssouri.
POSTLIBYAN: Well, yes they have changed, but sometimes
bands need to grow as musicians, and sometimes that growth will
take them away from an existing fan. We will see how far down
this path of "hard guitar rock" Myssouri go.
TRACERS: On the other hand, some of the newer, faster
songs remind me of the Pogues circa If I Should Fall From
Grace With God, which is a good thing.
POSTLIBYAN: Hmmm.... i didn't really hear The Pogues
connetion, but i would agree that the new guitarist plays with
some more power chords than the old "nosferatu" guitarist.
TRACERS: Overall, I had a good time, although I think
things could have wrapped up earlier.
POSTLIBYAN: It was okay. About average i would say --
not really noteworthy for anything.