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  SATURDAY LOOKS GOOD TO ME w/ Nomo and Hot Young Priest  
  The Echo Lounge  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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I think it's official now. I have a love/hate relationship with Ann Arbor band Saturday Looks Good to Me. I've really liked some of their recordings; I've actively disliked others. Likewise, the one time I saw them live, I really enjoyed their set. However, in the case of this show, well…..there were issues.

But, before I explain further, let's step back a minute and discuss the rest of the evening.

Shortly after I wandered over to The Echo Lounge, the first opener, Atlanta's Hot Young Priest, took the stage. I had seen them only once before, apparently in one of their first live performances. At the time, I thought they had a lot of potential, but they were still a little rough around the edges. On this evening, however, I can see how much they've grown as a cohesive unit in the intervening 3 or so months. In particular, the interplay between drummer Chris Jansen and bassist Daniel Winn has given Hot Young Priest a very heavy and intricate framework that highlights Mary Byrne's vocals. Furthermore, Byrne's vocals have a slightly more accessible tone these days; in fact, during several of the songs her voice recalled that of Carol van Dijk from Bettie Serveert. Suffice to say, I was quite pleased with Hot Young Priest's set, and looked forward to the next two bands.

After a break, Ann Arbor's Nomo took the stage. Described as an Afro-beat orchestra, to me, they seemed more like a slightly jazzy, instrumental dance ensemble. Think big band with a funky rhythm. Or think Cordero without the vocals. Either way, the largish group played extraordinarily well. I mean, it's not the type of music to which I'd normally listen. However, sitting in the back room of The Echo Lounge, everything sounded quite interesting with multiple textures and phenomenal rhythm section. Additionally, the horn section were a nice focal point of several of the songs, and seemed like an integral part of the music instead of just an accent. Although I didn't get their album, in retrospect I wish I had, if only so I can hear them again with my full attention.

And then it was time for Saturday Looks Good to Me. Or rather the main players in Saturday Looks Good to Me backed by Nomo (including the afore-mentioned horn section). Based on Nomo's performance, I thought, "This ought to be good."

But, from the beginning, it was a problematic set. Yes, the full orchestration as played by such a competent band was amazing. The bassist held everything together while the horn section came in during all the right parts. However, the female vocalist (whose name I never caught) and male vocalist/guitarist Fred Thomas were the weak links in the performance. Each had issues with staying on key, which was exacerbated by the lack of effects on the PA, which might have masked the problem. Furthermore, when the two attempted to harmonize, the tonal qualities of their voices didn't mesh well at all, and made the key issue even more noticeable.

Still, this wouldn't have been such an issue except for two other factors. First off, Saturday Looks Good to Me played a somewhat odd set list. Certain fan favorites like I Wish I Could Cry and Meet Me By The Water were missing in action; additionally, none of the songs on the band's most recent EP were heard, which was a tremendous disappointment to me, considering that was the one recording by the band which I had liked. But the third factor was the final nail in the coffin. Even though they were the headliner, Saturday Looks Good to Me played only 35-40 minutes. This would have be O.K., if they had played their hits. As it was, and combined with the vocal problems, it felt like a bit of rip off.

Yet, despite the fact that headliner wasn't particularly good, I enjoyed the show. Hot Young Priest provided a good, enjoyable set. And, more impressively, Nomo was a revelation. If the headliner had not been on the bill, I'd probably have rated this one of the better shows I'd seen in 2004. As it is, I'll just make sure to avoid Saturday Looks Good to Me in the future.

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EP, for which Saturday Looks Good To Me were ostensibly on tour, yet did not perform from at all this evening.


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