The usual way that i hear about artists is through listening to recordings. Someone recommends a disc, and i listen to samples on the Internet, and maybe obtain an album. Then, when i go see them perform, i have a basic familiarity with the tunes.
Not so for this show. The opening act was a local unknown, which is not at
all uncommon, really. From headliners Robbers on High Street, on the other
hand, i had listened to one MP3 that the nice people at their promotional company
had sent me. Crown Victoria is
apparently their single, and it's a catchy tune with soaring guitars, droning
organ, and nice, clipped vocals. It moves along at a good, Brit-poppy pace.
I was looking forward to catching their set.
As to Great Northern... Well, the nice folks at their label had sent me the
record months ago, before their last time in Atlanta. Which was also around
the time i was trying to buy a condo, and so the CD got filed in a box, and
(much) later unpacked and placed on a shelf. I actually dragged it out
to give a cursory listen before this show. It's pleasant, sunshiny Californian
pop, but did not strike me as remarkable on first listen.
Nonetheless, a reviewer has to go out, see bands, and write thoughts down. It's what i do, and so on a lovely fall evening i headed to The EARL for a night of no real expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by the music i heard.
Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun are a local hard rock four-piece. They have a female guitarist/vocalist, a female bassist/vocalist, a highly tattooed male guitarist (who also sings), and a drummer. The drummer plays really energetically -- he twirls his sticks like Lars Ulrich, thumps very heavily on the drums, and stands up to scream out his count. The man moves around very energetically, and obviously really gets into the performance. I liked watching him work.
The lead guitarist plays his guitar through a lot of effects, making a dense chugging sound. This intertwines with the female guitarist, who plays more traditional power cording. Along with this, the bass is a nice heavy thudding, and the vocals are almost yelled.
There is a good bit of heavy metal in this band. The drummer and guitarist have undoubtedly head banged a few times, and the two women in the band moved about energetically and really thrashed their instruments.
They might need sunblock: Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun.
That said, the music was also pretty catchy. I would compare them to a slightly harder version of Garbage, minus the synthesized beats of course. i would bet that EvilSponge's resident metal Priestess would enjoy this act, and i found their 35 minute set to be entertaining. Not bad at all.
Up next was Great Northern. This band is a four-piece, and also shares the 1 to 1 gender ratio. Here, there is female bassist who does not sing, a female singer/keyboardist, and male guitarist/vocalist and male drummer. They also had a fun stage set up -- there was a stuffed raven sitting on the bass amp that had a LED in its eye, so the bird winked a red light at the crowd. Fun!
To be honest, i didn't even notice this second stuffed raven
at the show because its
eyes didn't blink. (And did you know it's impossible
capture the concept of
"blinking eyes" in a photograph? It's not easy i tell you.)
However, it was when they started to play that i was really entertained. Great Northern make sunshiny Californian pop, but live it has a certain epicness to it. The songs positively soared, and the male and female voices traded lyrics and harmonized to great effect.
The dueling vocalists of Great Northern (and yet another stuffed
They must have been all over the stage and i only noticed the blinking
Their music struck me as the fusion of The Potomac Accord and An Epic At Best.
Both of those are great post-rockish piano bands, with a strong epic bent to
their songs. With Great Northern, the songs had a huge, wide feel to them,
but they were still all toe-tappingly catchy, and most were 5 minutes or so
long (as opposed to the 10 minute tunes those other bands play.)
The drum kit was decorated too -- only no ravens!
Really, they were incredible in concert. If Great Northern come to your town, you need to run out and see them. This band has a lot of talent, and writes some great songs. I guess i need to go back and listen to that promo CD again...
After their set, i felt both energized and drained, which to me is the sign of a great performance. I was energized by the powerful mood of the music, and drained by the natural catharsis of the show. Wonderful stuff, but really hard for another band to follow. I think that Robbers on High Street made a noble effort.
Robbers on (moderately) high stages.
Robbers on High Street are a 5-piece band of short Englishmen wearing really tight jeans. I don't get the fashion of that, but i found their music to be of high quality. For a five-piece band with two guitarists and an organ, their sound is remarkably sparse. There is a lot of space in what they do, so that the music does not seem crowded.
A nice guitar well-played in Robbers on High Street.
The songs are catchy, but with a hint of melancholy. There was a slight reggae influence in some of the guitar and bass work, but not so much that they seemed ready to do Wailers covers. The highlight of their set was a rousing version of Crown Victoria in which the lead vocalist strummed away on a 12-string guitar. They even covered an older Kinks song, something very few people who are not from Athens, GA ever do.
I don't know why Robbers on High Street sing about the Crown
Does Ford even make them anymore? Do they have them in the UK?
They were good -- very good. However, Great Northern were better. I think that if the middle band had not been so amazing, i would be ranting and raving about how good Robbers on High Street were. As it is, i want to rant about Great Northern, while pointing out that Robbers were also good. This is a strange effect that i have noticed, wherein the quality of a band seems to be influenced by what other bands they are with. It's all just my perception though, and i know that both bands played wonderful sets. I would recommend both of them, and would definitely go see either of them again. Especially if the promo company guest lists me!
A good night, all around.