On a Tuesday night at The EARL, there was a rare David Gedge sighting.
We wandered into the club at 9:30 and stood around chatting in the mostly empty space until 9:50, when the opening act took the stage. This was a four-piece act called The Jealous Girlfriends. There was only one female in the act though, so perhaps they should be called "The Jealous Girlfriend", or maybe "One Jealous Girlfriend and Three Jealous Boyfriends", although that sounds like some kind of Mormonic multi-person relationship, so maybe not.
Anyway, the one female in this act sang, played guitar, and did some keyboard work. And, apparently, she incited drool. After their set, at least thee people indicated to me that they thought the band was okay, but that the frontwoman was "hot". I didn't see that, but whatever….
3 out of 4 male Atlanta indie rockers think she's HOTT!
At any rate, the band played pretty decent pop music with jangly guitars. The girl's voice was nice too, with hint of Sara Borealis and Thao Nguyen. That is, she is not very high-pitched, and her voice is slightly husky, but has a decent middle range. She also was pretty expressive, using inflection to good effect.
The hottie can sing, that's for sure.
On the whole The Jealous Girlfriends had their moments. Some of their songs soared nicely, while at their worst they performed competent pop music. That is, there is nothing they did that i hated, but there also wasn't anything that i really loved about their set either. Could be they were having an off night, or maybe they are just one of the mass of bands that are "average". Still, i have seen worse openers.
The Jealous Girlfriends played for about 40 minutes, ending their set when the power, unexpectedly, flickered off on the stage. Oh well.
As they geared out, sound man Curt Wells ran around the stage trying to figure out what had happened. I don’t think he was able to identify the problem, and so we were all sort of anxious to see if the electricity would hold for the entire Wedding Present set. Please note that the power only went off on the stage, and the club lights were not effected.
As we stood watching the relative mayhem, i noticed something odd: there was a blond girl running around setting up The Wedding Present's gear. I watched her work and thought, "David Gedge has an intern!" , because she looked like some young person who was working a job between semesters at college, not like your average "roadie". Interesting. And looking back at the pics i snapped of Mr. Gedge at SxSW this year, i see that this intern was helping him out there as well. Good for him -- if anybody deserves an intern, Mr. Gedge surely could use one. He has been around long enough to deserve one.
David Gedge's intern/guitar tech.
I wonder how many credit hours she is getting for this tour?
And speaking of Interns -- Brendan, do you think we can get an unpaid intern to open emails from nagging artists? That would help me a lot!
Anyway, as The Wedding Present's intern was setting up, the club filled slowly. There was not a huge crowd, but a respectable amount of people for a Tuesday night.
At 10:50, an hour after the opener started, The Wedding Present took the stage. David Gedge sings and plays guitar, and Terry De Castro is on bass, but i am not totally sure that the lead guitarist and drummer are the same as the last time i saw them. I guess i should know that, but honestly the focus of this band is on Mr. Gedge.
David Gedge has a hand cramp.
The sound tonight was crisp and clear, with no instrument really overpowering the voice. This was a good thing, as it allowed Mr. Gedge's clever lyrics to shine. He has a way with words that very few songwriters do, making everything sound funny, deep, self-deprecating, and slightly vulgar at the same time. I mean, come on -- all of his songs are about sex. Seriously -- listen to the lyrics. The Wedding Present could easily descend into Beavis and Butthead territory, but somehow he never quite hits the gutter, even on a song like Suck. I don't know how he does it, but i do really appreciate the craft.
David Gedge in mid-croon.
The rest of the band played very well. Ms. De Castro is a much better bassist when she has a drummer to keep the time. That is, when i saw Gedge and De Castro at SxSW this year, she seemed to have a hard time accompanying him. Then again, i think that without a drummer there to rein him in, Gedge played at a breakneck pace. Well, whatever -- i thought she sounded good tonight.
Ms. De Castro on bass and "hair in the face" posing.
Current guitarist Chris McConville did a great job. I am not a guitarist, but The Wedding Present's music seems complicated to me. They use tempo shifts a lot, and many of the song feature portions that are played as fast as possible, kind of like a minute of speed metal in an otherwise poppy song. That seems hard to do, yet McConville pulled it off admirably.
McConville tries to blind me!
Finally we have drummer Graeme Ramsay. To me, after the voice the drums are the most important part of a Wedding Present song. Just look at anything on their masterpiece, Seamonsters (from which they performed Lovenest, Dalliance, and Dare). These songs are drum based -- it is the drumming that starts them off and propels them along, driven forward by the loud, thudding beat. Ramsay performed remarkably well.
So i have no complaints really. Mr. Gedge was charming and chatted with the smallish crowd. Those who showed up knew the words and bounced along enthusiastically. The faithful gathered around to hear the same songs once more.
The Wedding Present in action. No Brassneck though.
And new songs too. Let's not forget that the band was touring to support El Rey, which came out earlier this year. The record is okay, i guess. Not an instant classic. However, songs like Model, Actress, Whatever and Spider-man on Hollywood came across much better in a live setting. I guess that they were played a little faster, and that made them feel more immediate, more alive.
This was a good show, and if you have enjoyed The Wedding Present in the past (and who hasn't?), then you will enjoy them now.