First off, anyone who was not there last night missed a kick-a$$ show – plan to attend next week’s last-half semi-finals which will have FIVE killer bands!
Next, my obligatory pre-review rant (I’ll make it quick) – if you are with one of the bands playing or someone of interest to the club (glances at the two guys from Security In Numbers who were chatting with the manager or whoever the big guy is) and someone comes up to you and says, “hey, I’m Laurel with The Club Circuit – don’t know if you know me…”, the correct response is not “No,” and then turn away. I do not have a God-complex (just call me “goddess” if you must) but there are a lot of people who read this column and you want me to LIKE you, not be annoyed with you. Just saying…
Anyways, the show was great – all the bands put on a helluva performance. Two out of the four have been previously reviewed (see TCC columns dated April 15 for Security In Numbers and April 21 for This Patch of Sky) so those reviews will be short and sweet. I want to pay particular attention to the other two bands that played as I hadn’t had a chance to review them before, Atension and Harness Unseen. In the order they appeared…
First Up – Security In Numbers
These guys have so much energy, you want to love this punk-rockabilly (my definition) band. Joel Williams’ drums were solid as always, front man Asher Fay still runs killer lead guitar riffs, and Josh Kile on bass still rips, but the trio just wasn’t hitting their stride tonight. Folks drifted on and off the floor, clearly not hooked by this performance. As an Unidentified Individual (glances at person always sitting to my left) noted, the general impression is of separate musicians playing on different planes without a wormhole to connect them. I think that’s stolen from a semi-popular TV series but a fitting description nonetheless.
On a purely professional note, the use of a retro mic for lead vocals can be a cool effect if done correctly, but you have to remember these are extremely unidirectional – if you aren’t singing directly into the mic, you’ll lose the vocals. Overall, a decent effort from this band – 2½ stars.
Second – Atension
(Note – if I don’t have the band member names noted correctly please let me know!)
They definitely started with a good group of fans on the floor, but again, by the time this short set was finished there were only a few folks left in front of the stage. The vocals from front man Matt Zhun are still a bit weak, sounding rather strained and forced, but musically these guys are really strong. I will always love how they use different time signatures without sounding sloppy – Andrew Dudley on bass was totally locked with Wyatt Heth’s drums. Both Zhun‘s lead guitar runs and Matt Bailey (two Matts in one band is a little hard to track!) on rhythm definitely know how to showcase their skill and talent.
Unfortunately, the other thing that wasn’t working tonight was the tuning of the guitars – they were just off enough to make me cringe (gotta love having perfect pitch) when they would hit the same note and not be the same. As I mentioned to the father of one of the members when he asked me how I liked their set, I really like the direction this very young band is going towards – they just haven’t quite gotten there yet. I look forward to seeing this band in the future as they continue to grow and develop their music – 2½ stars for these guys as well.
Third – This Patch of Sky
The more I hear this band, the more I love them (even without vocals apart from isolated screamo) – their sound is so thick, they make me think of Hershey bars and marshmallows. Seriously. Always a joy to behold, what I especially liked about this performance was it was just as well played (if not better) than the one I saw last week at the McDonald Theatre (when they opened for Floater). I know there is a significant following for the instrumental rock genre, and sold-out shows for bands like Explosion In The Sky notwithstanding, but without lyrics to hook you I’m afraid it is going to remain a sub-genre. Gotta give credit where credit is due tho – these guys are overall amazing musicians – 3½ stars and one of my picks for the finals.
Fourth – Harness Unseen
This Roseburg-based band is a solid group of musicians, with excellent vocals (and a nearly perfect use of the retro mic) by front man Jacob Carson. Jacob’s lead guitar is in-your-face kickass, with thumping drums from bro Jason Carson tied perfectly with Justin Whited on bass.
When not running his killer lead guitar riffs, Jacob does serious rhythm guitar progressions that blend beautifully, making this trio a rich mix that comes across as a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts. 3½ stars and the second of my picks for the finals.
As a closing note, it was also great to see Bowie (Transcending Maya) and John Eastman (Eastman Band) – thank you both for stopping by to chat! Look for emails in your respective mailboxes to schedule interviews before next Friday. =)