Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Live: The Vandelles, the Morning After Girls

When: 8/14
Where: Bowery Ballroom

You know how I said I'd love to see the Vandelles on a bigger stage? Well, I got my wish when the scored the opening slot on the Warlocks' tour, which passed through NYC at the Bowery Ballroom. And it was just as I suspected - while many bands look smaller and smaller as they find themselves on bigger and bigger stages, the Vandelles have the opposite effect. Instead of dwarfing the group, the space made their giant stage presence even more visible.

The band sounded amazing - though I've seen the Vandelles a few bazillion times, I don't think I've ever heard with clarity what's really going on within their noisy songs. This time, each instrument, each detail was distinctly audible. There's a lot more to the band than just surf melodies and feedback!

The band made the most of the opportunity and seemed to be at the top of their game. That's not to say the set was flawless, but the energy they put in compensated for any mistakes. The band also did well to handle an emergency restringing by guitarist Christo Buffam - the band bravely played a song without him, and while the gaps in the sound were massive, it was a far better option than five minutes of silence. The band could generally work on minimizing downtime, but they did keep things moving. [MySpace]

Next up were the Morning After Girls, a band of Australian ex-pats. I had high expectations, and unfortunately, they just weren't met. The group was OK, but ultimately, seemed redundant, given how many bands out there make the same wall-of-sound, heavy pop/rock music, and how many of those bands do it way better. MAG were enjoyable, but if you've seen bands like Trail of Dead, BRMC, Autlux, Mercury Rev or anything else of that general persuasion, this band will just be a disappointment and a waste of your time.

The band's one really stand-out feature was its use of vocals. The frequent use of harmony and vast range covered by frontman Sacha Lucashenko and back-up vocalist Martin Sleeman (both also guitarists) were unusual and extremely well-executed. The singing was sweet and mature, yet powerful. Nevertheless, I don't think it's enough to make this band truly noteworthy. There's so much music in the world, so why listen to something that's just OK? [MySpace]

For strange reasons I won't explain here, I pretty much missed the Warlocks entirely, so I'll have to leave them unreviewed.

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