Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Certain Breeds, Solars, and A Sunny Day In Glasgow

The Media Club attract music lovers first and foremost, so bringing a crowd of 70 or so keeners wasn’t much of a problem on this windy Monday night. And truly focused bunch they were, horseshoed strategically around the low, orange-lit stage, waiting for Certain Breeds to begin their 10 o’clock set. Now this band may have the worst luck out of any I have ever seen, and tonight was no exception. Two false starts, a request for a light change, and an apology to the crowd didn’t much help to get the flow of things going, especially for a band whose songs aren’t usually more than 3 or so minutes. A tough start, particularly for a band on the cusp of brining their haunting, pop-macabre act to a wider, hungrier audience. Once things did get rolling, however, Certain Breeds consumed and mesmerized the crowd with richly textured arrangements of simple yet intricate melodies. Delicately balancing swelling keyboard echoes, moog delays and loops, with rich haunting vocals and slightly wicked cello parts, this set could have been sublime, had the band started with more solid footing.
Solars took the stage shortly after, and despite working through some technical difficulties, they managed to sculpt their post-industrial sound-scape into a 20 minute experience of dark, lulling uncertainty. Regrettably, the subtlety of their crescendo was interrupted more than once by a piercing distortion, one that was definitely not in the anticipated bag of tricks. Such is the wager when making live noise, I suppose. All in all, it made me think of Fripp and Eno, with less equipment and more distortion. Eyes closed for most of the set, my imagination took me to the trough of a dark wave, and as it slowly fed upon itself to reach the crest, the razing of the beachcombers to follow felt calming, almost welcoming. For the purposes of the show, Solars subdued the energy brought by Certain Breeds, and could have opened rather than gone second. But outside of this context, I would certainly see them again in a more noise-conducive environment.
While the band got packing, the attentive crowd began to morph. Bright tones replaced dark shades, and the attentive horseshoe dispersed for a youthful, raucous bunch. Cute couples came to the front and made googly eyes at each other as fresh faced Sunny Day In Glasgow plugged in. Plunging into their first song with a growly, fuzzed out bass tone, blood pounded through neglected limbs, and shivers of sonic pleasure reverberated through the room. If anything, watching and listening to this five piece could give you an eargasm, if you weren’t too discriminating. The two gorgeous lead vocalists danced through devoutly crafted pop-instrumentals breaks, returning to carefully orchestrated four part harmonies, and rising and falling dynamics. However, like a chocolate bar eaten too quickly or an over eager lover, , after a few sound bites and strokes, I was feeling shallow and empty. Unlike the minimalist indie/electronica leanings of their new album, A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s live show reminded me of an Arcade Fire without the holy desperation, or an Architecture in Helsinki without the frantic quirk. The two vocalists seemed to be propping each other up for their mutual lack of decibels, all to often things became lost in a wall of noise. Given the numerous member changes the band has faced within the last couple of years, it made sense to me that they might opt for more of a rock set than a quiet electro/indie experience. Regrettably, they weren’t able to pull off the former with the professionalism or originality that the oversaturated genre demands, and made me feel as though leaving after the first few songs might have made the night more of a success.

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