The McDonald Theatre will always be one of my favorite venues, only because I met and fell in love with Silversun Pickups there in 2008 (!!) – it reminds me a bit of McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom (PDX). That doesn’t mean the acoustics are always the best, but I’ll always be a sucker for sheer ambiance I guess!
I previously reviewed This Patch of Sky (TPOS) at a recent Last Band Standing show (see column dated 4/21/11) and enjoyed seeing them in a completely different (larger) venue. While they did have some electrical issues (that they mention on the FB page) early in their set, they handled it professionally and with humor (which the audience appreciated and responded to in kind).
Not having vocals per se (apart from some isolated ‘screamo’ in one song) still does not benefit them in my opinion (and based on some loud comments from the audience between songs when they mentioned a CD available for sale – I think I heard a “do they have lyrics?!” question shouted but I’m not sure what the band’s response was) I don’t think my opinion is unique. In any event, these guys are solid musicians and performed really well in a rather tough spot (opening for a HUGELY popular local band with technical difficulties on top of that). If they add some material with lyrics (screamo or otherwise) to their existing instrumental numbers I think that would move things along considerably for them professionally.
I had never seen Floater before (I know – four years living here in Eugene, my bad!) AND I was not familiar with their material, so this was literally a blank canvas upon which I could see and appreciate this group. I’m glad I had that advantage – the show was amazing and I had no preconceived ideas of what they would or would not do.
My 14 yr old daughter (Victoria) came with me to this all-ages show, so we sat in the first row of seats above the floor (sound board one row behind us) which made it difficult to get decent pictures (my regular photographer, Jeanice, wasn’t there and I am NOT a photographer!) or see much of the stage. I think the light crew did better effects when TPOS was on – Floater’s stage tended to be dark and murky in terms of lighting, even with the backdrop running different video clips throughout. I had Victoria pop up to the top of the aisle late in the show with me to see the 100+ moshpit bobbing and surging in front of the stage – she was impressed (or terrified – I’m not sure). Her first concert ever and she can say it was Floater!
In terms of musicianship specifically, the band was awesome. Just listening to them, you wouldn’t know there are only three members playing. You would swear there are at least two guitarists playing – Dave Amador does excellent work running rhythm guitar chords with lead guitar riffs simultaneously. Pete Cornett on drums kept the energy high and timing constant, with Rob Wynia on bass guitar working right alongside. Victoria especially liked how the drums and bass would start a song with a pounding foundation, then they would add the guitar layers on top. (She may grow up to be a reviewer some day!)
The vocals were also excellent, once the sound mix was adjusted (at first the lead vocals were almost buried). Rob’s lead vocals are amazing – he can growl and scream with the worst of them, and then croon his way under your skin. Dave’s backup vocals were a perfect compliment. The crowd danced and bounced and yelled lyrics along with the band on most of the songs which was wonderful. I thought their cover of Rush’s “Working Man” was pretty good but definitely not their strongest number. The encore performance (dedicated to the fact that at that point we were all pretty certain “the rapture” did not, in fact, occur) was Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” which is a personal fave of mine – no pun intended! – and a perfect way to close the set. I will definitely be purchasing CDs and catching these guys live again – I’m one of their newest fans!!