Often when i write these live show reviews, i go into the show knowing full well that i am going to write on it. This show, however, is an exception. This marks the fourth Ruvolo concert review of this year and the second for Home of the Wildcats. I had figured that i'd just forgo the writing on this one. However, all three bands were so good, and the show was so underattended, that i felt compelled to write on it. So bear with me, as i am doing this without notes!
Home of the Wildcats went on a little after 10 PM to a crowd of about 8 people, including bar staff and the merch girl for the middle band. That's shocking in some ways, since Home of the Wildcats is the latest act from Gary Flom and Ben Davis, who were in Moreland Audio, and before that The Purkinje Shift. These two performers are the Lennon and McCartney of the Atlanta math rock community. They are legends in this genre in our town, and yet, no one came out on this Thursday to see them. Sad.
And foolish, because if you are familiar with any of their previous acts, you know that the two of them are even better in concert. And, indeed, this was one powerful performance. With Home of the Wildcats, Flom and Davis have added a new drummer (each of the previous drummers left Davis and Flom because they got into grad school -- i wonder where the current drummer is applying?), and an aditional guitarist, the presence of which allows Ben Davis to switch over to bass. Which gives him time to sing. No, really, for the first time in three bands, Davis and Flom sing. The thing is, neither of them are brilliant singers, but neither of them totally screw it up either. That is to say, the type of somewhat shouty vocals they do is perfectly fitting for the math rock genre they know so well. And with the addition of vocals, HotW sound almost like Shipping News or Slint. It gives the music an added edge.
Anyway, i sincerely believe that this was one of the most impressive performances Davis and Flom have put on in a few years. HotW adds a lot of depth to their sound. I like Davis on bass, and think that the new guitarist does a fine job. (Rumor has it he used to be in Copa Vance, who were reviewed opening for another Davis and Flom act back in 2003.) Flom is a wonderful guitarist, and i love watching him play. Finally, the current drummer (no, really: what type of grad school program is he looking for?) does a wonderful job. Tonight, Home of the Wildcats were loud, chaotic, and beautiful. A great performance that i thoroughly enjoyed.
We had a nice intermission while the middle act, Portland OR's Invisible,
set up. During this intermission Thad Goad, the drummer in Ruvolo, delighted
us with stories of his employment. This included him stomping on a plastic
Camel Cigarettes ashtray to emphasize some point, and smashing it into pieces.
I honestly forget what he was talking about, because smashing the ashtray caused
such laughter that all else was forgotten.
Anyway, then Invisible went on. This is a three piece act from Portland, OR, that performs catchy emo-esque pop with guitars and pianos, all synced to a very elaborate video display. Apparently at least one of them works in the digital video industry, and it shows in the high quality images shown behind the band.
They were fun, really fun. I enjoyed their performance tremendously. They had catchy rhythms, tight melodies, and fun bouncy lyrics. The guitars soared, and the piano (used on about half of the songs) was well played. Very enjoyable. I am sorry that i do not have more to say bout them, but Tracers thought they were reminiscent of Western Keys, or perhaps a more upbeat Palaxy Tracks. Either way, they were so good that both Tracers and i bought the CD from the band after their set. This is a quality act -- look for them to play a club near you, and look for a review of their album here sometime in the future.
Finally, after midnight (did i mention that i have a meeting at 9 AM?), Ruvolo took the stage. The band was somewhat inebriated, but they still played their hearts out for 45 minutes to a crowd that seemed to be only friends and family. I really like their catchy, earnest tunes, and thought that everyone played well tonight. In particular, drummer Goad played with heightened intensity, and guitarist/vocalist Kevin Wallace sounded fairly on, despite the tiny crowd. I must point out, however, that i did not hear any keyboards, which is a common problem with this band's sound. Sorry.
Overall, a fun night, with three very talented bands.