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THE ORPHINS w/ The Humans and Crane Orchard

  East Atlanta, GA  
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We were invited to this show by Nick Punch, guitarist in Crane Orchard, based on the favorable review i gave their debut EP, and also because we liked Nick's previous band, Audomobil? The comment i made while reviewing their debut EP was that Crane Orchard obviously started off as the one man project of Paul Fugazzotto, and later he added in more people to make it a full band. My theory was that the weaker songs at the beginning of the EP would be better if they were fleshed out with more players. Well, after seeing Crane Orchard in concert, i am certain of it. They played lots off the EP, and it sounded even better. The songs were fuller, more dynamic. In short, Crane Orchard rocked.

They played as a standard rock four-piece (drums, guitar, bass, and guitar/voice) with the addition of a laptop for a few sequenced beats, and some samples of bird sounds on one song. The tunes really worked in a live setting, and Crane Orchard are a tight little band. They played a solid set of vaguely psychedelic indie pop, and i stand by my comparison to The Flaming Lips. They have that sort of psychedelic feel to them.

Overall, the three Minions at this show were impressed, and we hope that Crane Orchard make the drive to Atlanta from Birmingham more often. If you get the chance to see them, i urge you to do so. They put on a fun show, and their sounds are interesting.

Unfortunately, i cannot make the same recommendation for the middle act, The Humans. This is the new band of Brian Teasley, who you might know as the drummer in Man or Astroman? and currently with The Polyphonic Spree. The Humans are Teasley's new act, and apparently consists of him plus some friends from his hometown in Birmingham, AL. They are a four piece band, with Mr. Teasley on drums, a guitarist, and two females on keyboards and alternating lead vocals. The one girl who sang less also played bass. Additionally, the band apparently had a very complicated set up, seeing as it took them almost 45 minutes to set up. And 45 minutes is a long time to be standing around waiting for a band, especially at Lenny's, where the sound system is rather uncomplicated.

When they finally started playing, it was not exactly what i was expecting. I guess i was thinking that this band would do quirky, math-rocky surf music a la Man or Astroman?, but they did not. Instead, well, they were odd. The guitarist played complicated riffs, really showing his stuff. Obviously, he is a man who has listened to Eddie Van Halen in his day, and he's not bad at it. The primary singer had a rich, deep female voice. She sounded almost like Siouxsie, and if you closed your eyes and listened, her voice combined with Teasley's competent and complex rhythms, the guitarist's histrionics, and the keyboards really made The Humans sound almost like a goth band. Then, you open your eyes and see the standard bad-haircuts and thrift store clothing uniform of the indie rockers, and the illusion is shattered. If they all wore black, they could be goth. That's not a bad thing. The other singer, who also added bass here and there, had more of a shouty indie rock vocal style, and i must say that i found her voice to be less pleasing. That might be due to the contrast, since the primary singer is such a strong vocalist.

Overall, though, the rest of the band almost seemed to be struggling to keep up with Teasley. It was obvious that he is a far better musician than the rest of them, and the overall effect made the band seem slightly off. It is as if they wanted to do math rock, but were unable to pull it off, so parts of each song seemed complicated, while other parts seemed too simplistic in contrast.

Now, that said, i have no idea how long The Humans have been together. For all i know, they formed on the first of the year and this was their first ever show. [Brendan's Note: They've been together about two years.]  Maybe they need more practice. Anyway, right now, i wouldn't recommend them, but maybe after a few more months, when they again swing this way, they'll be tighter. It's not that they were bad, they just seemed slightly unfocused, and that could be an experience issue. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say, wait a little while and see what happens. There were interesting things going on, they just never seemed to come together. And of course, it's always a pleasure to see a really good drummer like Teasley perform.

By the time The Humans finished and got all of their gear off the stage, it was already 12:55. The Orphins rapidly set up their gear and started to play. They seemed angry, and slightly drunk. I suppose that they, like we, thought that The Humans were supposed to headline this show. No matter, a great band rises above adversity, and The Orphins did so. They played fast, which made their post-punk infused music seem even angrier and catchier. They were also slightly sloppy, skipping verses (including the whole chanted end of Camp Cryotop) and generally thrashing around on stage. The Orphins do not usually dance around, but tonight the guitarists were moving around quite a lot.

I actually really enjoyed their set. Their music translated well to the angrier format, and the band was pretty tight despite having not played in over a month. It was a good show, if slightly different for The Orphins.

On the whole, this wasn't a bad night, giving us two really great performances, and one mediocre one. Not bad.

Related Links:
  Drowning Cupid, the debut album by The Orphins, was EvilSponge's "Album of the Year: in 2004.
Finish Raw Edges First, the debut EP from Crane Orchard.

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