Where: Death By Audio
Obviously, I wouldn't miss a show featuring two of my midyear Bands to Watch in 2009 playing in their own home space, which also happens to be the city's best DIY venue. Yeah, hottt.
I named Coin Under Tongue a band to watch without having heard them live. It was a bit of a gamble, but the recorded material was so strong, it seemed worth the risk. And after all, the Death By Audio collective (A Place to Bury Strangers, Dirty On Purpose, Grooms/Muggabears, etc) has yet to produce a band that falls short of amazing.
But nothing prepared me for exactly how amazing CUT would be live. The band pumped the room so full of smoke you could barely make out the folks in front of you, let alone the stage. Then, as they slowly emerged from the murk, the band cranked out some of the heaviest, nastiest post-hardcore I've ever heard.
The distorted bass crashes through like a drunk mammoth but the man behind the sound, George Wilson (oddly enough, formerly of slowcore dream-pop outfit Dirty on Purpose) is anything but clumsy, shredding some deliciously difficult riffs. The similarly-lumbering guitar cuts like a slow-motion buzz saw while Joe Kelly howls death metal renditions of secretly lovable melodies.
The band seemed a little underrehearsed for the show, stumbling more than once. This would have bothered me more, but truthfully, it was kind of nice to see the band, though skilled, are not infallible virtuosos. I was also pleasantly surprised by the variety the band offered, some songs more gentle or even downright pretty, some faster and post-punkier, some cleaner and some noisier - you'd be hard put to accuse this band of always sounding the same.
I was excited to catch Jeff the Brotherhood knowing nothing about them, but just based on the fact that they were selected to play between CUT and Sisters. Tennessee duo set up on the floor, and though that might have been just to speed up the transition between their set and Sisters', it seemed to be an ultimate gesture of solidarity. Literally playing from the midst of their not-quite-moshing audience, the band made the fans as much a part of the experience as they themselves were.
The downside, unfortunately, was not being able to see the band, except when guitarist Jake Orrall climbed on top of the amps on stage for a moment of rock-hero posing. Still, it was worth it.
Jeff the Brotehrhood (photo from MySpace)
The entire set found me unsuccessfully groping for a reference point - though JtB doesn't sound particularly "out there," they aren't easily pigeon-holed either. There are guitar-heavy moments that take a page straight from the classic rock and metal book, while just as often, the band sounds like a tidied up lo-fi pop outfit.
Whatever it was, the songwriting was superb and the performance thrilling. JtB sound most like some lost classic from greatest moments of the 1980's American indie scene, but like a sonic chameleon, the band wouldn't sound out of place much of anywhere. It would just sound damn good. [MySpace]
Rounding out the night was Sisters, another personal favorite. Last time I saw them live, I was impressed but not blown away. This time, the band left no question of their pure awesomeness. There's something awkward about the band's two members - I could just imagine them as dorky third graders. But if they ever were, they certainly aren't dorky now.
Banging out a constant stream of lo-fi gems, Sisters are punk rock in a totally unclicheed way. Though they have some technical skill and their songs are not simplistic, the duo seems more interested in crashing and smashing and making a racket than in playing carefully.
I'm not a fan of the prerecorded parts, only because I like seeing music produced right in front of me, when I'm at a show. Still, those parts weren't too many or too involved, just an invisible third person when an invisible third person was needed.
Cramped full of hooks and bright melodies, Sisters' music is pretty hard not to love. They wouldn't even need such evident concentration and effort and such unabashed enthusiasm to win over their audience, but putting this great of a live show with this great of songs is a combination you don't want to miss. [MySpace]