I have written before about how this three year
old venture we call EvilSponge.org has become a real music site.
Case in point: i talked with Patrick Ramos (drummer of Versus)
at the merch table before the show, and gave him an EvilSponge
card. I mentioned that we had reviewed some Versus, to which
he replied, "Oh, yeah. We've read that! Thanks."
You have no idea how much of a buzz it is to have somebody
in a band as well known as Versus say that they have read your
stuff. Okay, i'll stop geeking out now, and would like to point
out to any Versus-members reading this that despite the somewhat
negative tone of some of our reviews, we really do like Versus.
Okay, sycophantic ass-kissing aside, this was a great show,
and almost wholly unexpected. Actually, it is usually when i
wander into a club with no expectations that i walk away seriously
impressed. Tonight was such a night. I wandered into The Earl
knowing only that somebody on some mailing list had recommended
a few Clairvoyants MP3's to me (and i had misplaced the files,
but somehow thought the band were "goth"), and that +/- featured
some members of Versus.
The first act, called The Secret Machines, was loud, rocky,
and young. all of their gear (and they seemed to have quite
a lot of it for a three piece) had NYC stamped on. This, plus
their general sound, leads me to believe that somewhere in New
York City there is an entire scene based around the worship
of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation to the exclusion
of everything else. Now, i am all for Sonic Youth, but this?
Well, let's just say that this band is young and they wear their
influences a little too brightly on their sleeves.
Tracers referred to them as "the band most likely to induce
significant hearing loss". Which is a kind of compliment, i
suppose, and strikes a strong distinction with the next act:
Ah, Clairvoyants. What an amazing band, and not at all "goth"
as i had first suspected. Instead, Clairvoyants do everything
there is to like about mellow pop music.
They were a two-piece: a singer guitarist and a keyboardist
with a laptop. Very simple in composition, but in expressive
power there are few to compare. Their songs were minimal almost
to the point of being ambient, achingly constructed out of chiming
notes and his voice. The singer, Brian (as we later discovered),
has a luscious rich voice. Expressive and strong, his singing
reminds me of that of Luka Bloom.
My verdict on Clairvoyants: amazing. Go see them.
But we had an incident of wierdness during their performance.
As i said before, their set was almost ambient in its quietude.
The Earl was mostly empty, but at the bar one rather drunk individual
was chatting with his friend. No, not chatting -- shouting at,
but in a friendly way. He was LOUD. And he was disturbing the
show, throwing off the performers timing, and disturbing the
rest of the crowd who were entranced by the performance.
And finally, it got to be too much for one gentleman, who went
over to Loud Drunk Guy and asked him to keep it down a little.
Which offended Loud Drunk Guy, and prompted him to start screaming
at Polite Fan Guy, and threatening him. For a second or two
it looked like a real brawl might start, at this really mellow
concert. And then the bartender and another employee escorted
Loud Drunk Guy from the bar. The crowd cheered, and the vocalist
said, "Thanks for doing that" to Polite Fan Guy.
It was a truly surreal and funny experience. I mean, i have
been to punk or metal or Redneck Underground shows where the
hint of violence lies barely subdued, and yet it was at a mellow
pop show that i almost saw a brawl. Wierd wierd wierd. It just
added to the overall enjoyment of the evening, and there still
was +/- to see!
+/- features James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos from Versus, as
well as two others. They are a standard four-piece indie rock
ensemble: bass, guitar, guitar/vox, and drums. Except that the
drummer also has a laptop adding a few skittering electro beats,
and two of the guitar players had keyboards as well.
Most of their set was insanely catchy indie pop, with the barest
hint of electronica thrown in. Very catchy, happy, and fun.
If you like Versus, or just finely crafted indie pop, you will
definitely enjoy +/-.
I had a blast this evening. What fun.