OK, I have gotten over the heartbreak of losing my iPhone and my camera and am ready to review this show. It took the past few days for me to even want to think about this night, but now that I have replaced my gear (and even added an iPad to this mix…which I am having doubts about) I can look back on this show with a clear mind. And this clear mind tells me this was one hell’va show.
My buddy who came with me to the Hi-Dive was skeptical and I couldn’t say much to convince him that he shouldn’t be. After all, these bands have 3 albums between the 3 of them. Freelance Whales debut, no matter how enjoyable, sounds a little too much like a Death Cab rip off and the reviews from their SXSW shows always included adjectives such as inexperienced, young and nervous. Bear In Heaven put out a cool, chill album and Teenagers in Love is a great tune, but I had my doubts about their stage presence. So that left Cymbals Eat Guitars. A band my friend just could not remember…Keyboarding Eating Stuff, Drums Eat Horns, etc, etc.
Logic told me that at least one of these bands HAD to be good though. They all put out decent and even more than decent albums in the past year. Well, it seems the night was on my side (at least until after the show) and every band brought something worth seeing.
Freelance Whales got a late start because of the I-70 slide that caused them to take the long way into town from Salt Lake City (via Wyoming), and this caused them to perform a very short set. Probably about 25 mins or so. But that 25 minutes was enough to make me a believer. Yes they are young, and maybe they are inexperienced, but they were not nervous and they are a talented bunch of kids. Judah Dadone sounds a little like the guy from Wheatus and they do still remind of Death Cab meets Electric President, but they are bringing it together in their own way…and sometimes fun music is a happy alternative to originality.
We went next door after Freelance Whales ended their short but sweet set to grab a drink. When we came back 10 minutes later, the place was packed for Bear In Heaven . We stood toward the back and marveled at these three dudes who looked like they were from Seattle in the early 90’s. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but these guys were not what I was expecting and they killed it live. The drum kit setup right in front…alongside a moustached, Jon Philpot. The live bass drum mixed in with the keyboards and loop machine resembled their recorded work, but so much better! So much more intense. Not what I was expecting.
During our next break in sets, I ventured outside and ran into Lilly Scott from American Idol. She was so bummed she missed Bear In Heaven and we had a quick chat about Idol, SXSW and something else (I was pretty buzzed by this point). I flashed my stamp and fought my way through the now sold-out crowd to the front of the stage where my friend was holding my spot. Cymabls Eat Guitars came on with a vengence. They were loud, in your face and sweating like hell…and they were good, but they weren’t great. They had the misfortune of following two bands they just weren’t capable of following. It’s always hard to arrange a line-up of 3 bands that probably have about the same amount of following, but this time I do think they got it wrong. But that’s just a minor complaint about a amazing night of music for $10.
It was later on, after the Irish Rover and Skylark Lounge that things went to hell…but that’s another story for another blog.