April 1, 2007

Concert Review: HORSE the Band w/ The #12 Looks Like You, Light This City, So Many Dynamos, This Day Reborn (March 31, 2006)

I never thought I would reach the stage where I would feel some sort of disconnect with some of the newer up and coming bands, but I feel the tingling of that very sensation reaching out its icy grip to the back of my neck. It was a feeling that became evident during this decidedly odd night of music, clashing styles, clashing personalities, and the feeling that I was towards the extreme older end of the age scale in the attendant crowd. Still, there was stuff to like and stuff to dislike throughout the night. I cannot say that this is what I was prepared for, or what I expected, but it is what it is, and there is nothing quite like an evening of live music.

Nearly the moment I entered the club, the first band was on stage, and there were these post-hardcore kids doing their thing in the pit. That is something else I do not think that I will ever understand, the whole idea of the arm flailing and spin kicking, it just doesn't gel with me. I am all for getting rowdy and moshing, but that is about the extent I go, I guess I just long for the days of headbanging crowds instead.

This Day Reborn were plying their chosen craft, getting the screamo kids all riled up for the night. They may not have immediately impressed with their musical skills, but they had a couple of things going for them which endeared them to the crowd, and to a lesser extent with me. Those things were heaviness, they had some fist pumping riffs and pit churning breakdowns, and more importantly they had a seemingly endless stream of energy. The crowd was eating it up and This Day Reborn just kept giving it back. The performance did not go off without a hitch, as one of their guitar players straps broke, causing him to stand off to the side, playing, while stagehands worked at getting the strap reconnected. The five piece was all over the stage, swinging guitars, a constant flurry of motion, I have to admit that it was rather infectious. Musically, I was less impressed, at least at first. I did not hear anything that stuck out, and the vocals were of the growled/barked/unintelligble variety that I have heard many times before. Still, the live setting served them well, allowing the flow of energy to come full circle. I have since listened to the demo that they were handing out after their set, and it brings with it a different look at the band, stronger performances show a band that has a good grasp, and has some promise for the scene.

The stage was redressed for the next act, which brought a sharp turn around from the hardcore/screamo that we had just witnessed. Rather than heavy breakdowns, growled vocals, and a pit filled with swinging arms and feet, we were faced with a band that was having trouble getting their equipment to cooperate. Once the gear was in irder and the bespectacled band got started, we were presented with experimental indie sounds of So Many Dynamos. They have this weird indie-pop sound punctuated with epileptic freakiness. It is something I can only think of to call "nerdcore," not sure if that is a real thing, but it seems to fit. Now, let me be clear, I did not like this band, and the crowd in attendance seemed to have something of a split decision. They seemed to be infected with self-important pretentious pompousness, particularly when they took the time to confront members of the audience. First up was when one of the guitar players took exception to one of the hardcore kids getting into the music, telling him to "chill the f--- out," the other being when a kid voiced his displeasure with the band only to be mocked by the singer/keyboardist. You know, neither outburst was needed, and just painted the band in a poor light.

As for their music, well it was a discordant experimental mess which did not attract me in the least. However, I am glad to hear that bands are attempting to do something different with the medium. Sure, I may tend to more straight up bands, but I am not averse to the occasional experiment, and this band is definitely in the experimental arena. I just don't think I'll make a point ot see them again. Forutnately, at least for me, their set was cut short due to the time it took them to get their gear working, to which they also acted all self important, poor guys. Better luck next time.

Moving away from the experimental, the next band was the one most inmy wheelhouse and nearly stole the night for me. The band was called Light This City, and they will probably draw at least some comparisons to Arch Enemy due to their female fronted melodic death metal style. At first I wasn't sure, as it was a heavy riff coupled with growled vocals, but then the pieces fell into place and the heaviness was married with melody creating this head banging metal style that just grabbed me and forced my attention. Although, it started with more of a laugh than a sneer, as lead singer, Laura Nichol, slipped on some water and crumbled to the ground, but to her benefit, she did not miss a not, got back up and proceeded to lead Light This City through their crowd inciting set of metal. They have the melodic riffs, leads, tight drums, and all around energy to make a mark. They were a band that new where its roots were, from a long line of metal bands dating back for decades, and they carried themselves like a metal band, from the headbanging to the hair swinging, to the sheer attitude of the music, it was all there. This is a band that I would definitely be interested in seeing again.

The night was starting to turn long and there were still two more bands yet to come, including the one that everyone was primarily there for.

The stage was set and the fourth band came out and began their scream filled set. The Number Twelve Looks Like You is the band name and they scream, a lot, with two singers, and the music is some sort of prog-post-hardcore-screamo stuff, man I love trying to come up with these weird categories that get levied on music! They eschew melody for energy, singing for screaming in stereo, and they failed to win me over to their cause. I could not understand a word they said, not necessarily a bad thing, but I also could not detect any big difference between vocal styles, so when one of the singers mics went out, I couldn't even tell his voice wasn't in the mix. The best thing about them was their lead guitarist, he had a smooth approacha nd some very nice leads and fills. Overall, I just couldn't get into what was essentially noise-core. It just seemed so random, with little differentiation between the songs, save the pauses in their playing. Oh well, maybe I am just too old to understand, or maybe I'm right.

Now that all of the opening bands have been dispensed with, the curtain came down as the stage was prepared for HORSE the Band. They are self-proclaimed Nintendo-core, a term coined by the band leader and singer who is listed as General Tso Zee Zod. What that means I am not sure, althought they do have a lot of synth which sounds like they could be from an old Nintendo game. The curtain went up as the lights went down, revealing a stage lined with fake trees and foliage with a stuffed horse set up on the drum riser. The crowd roared a welcome as the band kicked into their first song.

They are a band that is difficult to put a finger on, combining elements of hardcore, emo, electronica, metal, screamo, all blended with a seriously offbeat sense of humor. Is it truly ingrained in my tastes? No, but I would bw lying if I said I wasn't intrigued by this bizarre act. I read that they had dropped off a tour due to some divine Chicago pizza which inspired them to record an EP called Pizza withe pizza-centric tunes, rather odd if you ask me. That doesn't even get into the dude who arrives onstage in a fried egg suit playing a trangle, and reappearing later as a slice of pizza.

Whatever you make of them, there is something quite endearing to watching them live. The music fits together rather like a jigsaw puzzle, a collection of oddly shaped pieces which fit together to form a larger picture, that is part noise and part slice of brilliance. From the great keyboard sounds, to solid drumming, the the centerpiece that pulls everything together, the General. I had listened to the tracks on their Myspace page, which amounted to my entire experience with the band, so nothing they played sounded all that familiar, but I found it easy to get into the grooves. Are they the greatest band? No, but they are a band that has a unique take on what they are doing.

Overall, the show was decent, it had its high and low points. There was good music, bad music, and music I was indifferent to, combining to make a mediocre night of music. Still, it was a night filled with live music, and a night like that can never be all bad.


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