What really is the purpose behind writing a concert review?
On the one hand, it sounds like bragging -- here i am telling
you about some cool event that i witnessed that you missed out
on. Ha ha reader. On the other hand, sometimes it can serve
to warn you away from a band, or guide you to see a band.
So why should i bother to review this, the final concert from
Atlanta-based Underwater? If the band is breaking up, you won't
have any chance to see them, so why bother?
I have been wresting with this for a few months now, and i
have finally decided this: if someone is interested in knowing
more about a band, these concert reviews provide valuable information.
They are snapshots of the band at a given point in time, and
show how they played and what they were like. Underwater might
not exist anymore, but there are some spinoff bands (such as
and their albums still exist, so having information about them
is still valuable.
At least, that's what i'm telling myself, and if it isn't true
just let me live with my delusion, okay?
So on a Saturday back in July, after being subjected to Corndog-a-rama
at The Earl, i hiked up Flat Shoals Road to The Echo Lounge
to take in Underwater's final show. The announcement that this
was the last show made me kick myself for failing to check out
a few shows that they have played recently, and i really didn't
want to miss this one.
Underwater, whose music i have greatly enjoyed, were breaking
up. After several years, they are moving on to ohter projects,
parenting being one of them. I can respect that.
The opening act was Azure
Ray, whom Tracers told me i would like, but whom i had never
heard. I sat at the bar listening to them. Their music was almost,
but not quite, drowned out by the buzz of Underwater fans chatting
socially. For the most part, it seemed as if i was the only
person playing attention to them, but they gathered polite applause
At any rate, i think that Tracers has described
their dream-like live sound quite nicely, but i would like
to add one more comment. There is a light country element to
the strumming style that reminds me of Mazzy Star. Personally
i think that the girls in Azure Ray have nicer voices than Ms.
Sandoval, but i also know that a few people read that last comment
and gasped in shock at my blasphemy. Sandoval's voice is slightly
husky. The Azure Ray girls all have light voices and remarkable
control. I thought that the singing, even though painfully quiet,
hit a wide dynamic range and really complemented the light guitar
They played a seemingly short set of quiet songs to an anxious
crowd. After they were done, it was relatively soon that Underwater
took the stage.
They were something to behold, and it saddens me that i will
never see them again. They played significant portions of their
wonderful album This
Is Not A Film as well as several tunes off of their
The general attitude of the show was celebratory -- as if Underwater
wanted to go out with a bang. For this performance they were
Jeremy Wilkins on guitars and synthesizers, Alec Irvin on drums,
Matt Jeanes on electronics, and Melissa Meleski on voice. This
is the third time i have seen them since the release of This
Is Not A Film, and this is the third lineup i have seen.
The players remain generally the same, they just recombine in
different ways at different times.
This lineup is heavier on the electronics than some of their
other ones. Indeed, at several times Irvin, Wilkins, and Jeanes
were all going creating loud noise from their devices while
vocalist Meleski waited patiently.
It was a fine performance -- really energetic and moving. The
music was a swirl of noise and distortion and feedback and deep
driving beats, all held in check by Mileski's melancholy but
And that is what really stuck out to me: Irvin, Wilkins, and
Jeanes were really enjoying themselves and having a great time
making their electronic music, while Mileski seemed bored at
the proceedings, as if she were simply indulging "the boys".
Given that the band was splitting up, this seemed really telling.
The show ended with a long slow song of just guitar and voice.
Mileski's singing was mournful and sad. It was an appropriate
way to end the last Underwater show.
I will miss the band. But i will look forward to hearing more
from Jeanes (in Larvae), Wilkins and Irvin (in stillife;gaijin),
and perhaps even Mileski, given time.