Thursday, March 5, 2009

Live: My Best Fiend

When: 2/20
Where: Zebulon

I completely forgot to run this review until now! Better late than never, though.

My Best Fiend is a band I ignored for a long time because of their name. But after a while, I realized they've got the respect of folks like A Place To Bury Strangers and might be worth checking out. And they definitely are.

The Zebulon set, however, wasn't your typical MBF. The small bar is not exclusively acoustic, but it's certainly more of a cafe feel than a rock show. Accordingly, the band turned down and calmed down, sitting and playing a relatively clean, quiet, "unplugged" version of their music.

While MBF are much better plugged in and turned up, seeing them play without effects allowed their musicianship to come to the fore. All four members, as it would happen, are exceptionally skillful at their instruments and its clear that when the band does use volume and effects, it's not because they need to hide behind anything. Stripped down, the music sounds like the earliest Smashing Pumpkins demos (I know that doesn't mean anything to anyone but me) - jumpy, rhythmic and ringing.

The only real problem with the set were the vocals. They seemed particularly out of key, though I suppose they are just more palatable with louder, fuzzier accompaniment. There's just enough punk rock in this band that I wouldn't expect a melodic, perfect vocal line, but the first couple of songs were simply high and grating. After that, the band seemed to settle in and the rough vocals approached what they should be - edgy but not painful.

As performers, the band did an admirable job. Their decision to keep things toned down for the venue was certainly wise. But just because they were seated didn't mean they didn't engage - each poured over his guitar with intense concentration and passion for the music. It was certainly a commendable show.

I'd highly recommend checking this band out when they aren't holding back. When you do, just remember that the noise isn't a cover-up, they really just are that good.

MBF on MySpace

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