Monday, March 08, 2010

Concert Review: Freelance Whales, Bear in Heaven, Cymbals Eat Guitars

Nice Stache(s)!

OK: so I have to admit right off I'd only listened a couple of tracks from each of the bands playing last night before I showed up at the show. But I had mostly liked what I heard so I was geared up for what could be a good show in probably the worst venue in DC (the sound is so bad... always).
Freelance Whales opened. Promptly at 9:30. (In fact, most things were right on schedule and set changes were quick which was pretty rad in and of itself - I guess I owe you that one RR Hotel!) They put together a pretty good set, opening with one of the Generator songs from their 2009 "Weathervanes" album and closing with the other. In between it was a veritable clown car of instruments: I can't even tell you what each song they busted out something new and different (harmonium! banjo! cello! glockenspiel!). They have a real good energy despite the venue (which was rather sparsely filled at that point), but really set a good tone for the rest of the acts to follow. All in all one of the better openers I had seen in a while.

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Then it was Bear in Heaven. First off: mustaches. The lead singer was rocking some badass handlebar that he totally pulled off (and was the only topic of the very infrequent comments made in between songs- that and being from Brooklyn). The other members' facial hair (more mustaches & beards) was neither as topical, nor badass, however. Aside from that I thought they were pretty awesome- Philpot's vocals were occasionally muffed by the levels on the instruments- but were still totally solid. They kind of create this transcendent overtone on the sometimes aggressive music behind them, and I was digging on this return to the 70s feel that they have. The only issue was because they don't talk or stop much between songs, you get that "was that 2 different songs or one?" feeling. But aside from that I thought Bear in Heaven pwnd the night. 

Cymbals Eat Guitars was the headliner. Why? No idea. Perhaps people have a deep yearning for a Pavement cover band or the kitchen sink of indie 90s rock or something. I had listened to some of their stuff previously, and thought it was derivative but OK. But man... vocals were off, and music was just spastic. I understand letting the beat drop and then kicking it back up... but whatever it was they were trying to do it wasn't well done. About half the audience left after the second song- I only got to about the fourth until I decided that I liked my tympanic membrane too much to subject it to such nonsense. The rest of the crowd who stayed seemed to be into it- although enough PBR may make any song with half a beat digable.

All in all (in spite of my rather harsh words above) I thought it was a really good show. Two out of three ain't bad.

-Lissa Krawczyk, Host: Sound Lust (Thursdays 10-11 AM)

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