Friday, August 8, 2008

Like a Reunion

Wednesday night (August 6) I went to see Film School's triumphant homecoming at Spaceland after weeks on the road. Clearly, they were real happy to be home. The whole evening had a reunion glow about it.
Mouse was back in town after joining The Airborne Toxic Event for the Northwestern leg of their tour - also happy to be back.
M. (of The Pity Party) was happy to be reunited with his life after nearly losing it in a motorcycle accident last week which put his left hand into a giant mitten-looking cast.

The first band, chosen in a line up selected by Film School themselves, was The Meeting Places, reuniting after a couple of years hiatus. Led by Scott McDonald , the band plays a gauzy, ambience-soaked shoegaze rock whose sound has inspired and been inspired by bands like Film School, Division Day, Xu Xu Fang, In Waves and the like. It's a great sound that I'm rather partial to anyway so this band sounded good to me. Many in the audience seemed to know their songs and were obviously happy to see them together again.

Next up was The Pity Party and Heisenflei told the story of the last crazy week of the accident, of the scrambling to figure out what to do about the show date. Three terrific local bands offered up guitarists to play M.'s part so M. could play lounge lizard and just sing. And sing he did. His vocals were amazing, as guest stars from The Deadly Syndrome, Human Value and Eskimohunter took turns playing a few songs each. Heisenflei became a blur of arms, hands, drums and hair while wailing away with her powerful voice. It wasn't typical Pity Party but a great experiment forced by necessity and interesting to hear other's takes on M.'s guitar parts.

Talked to Greg Bertens for a while before Film School went on. Their cross-country tour was great and this was the last night of it. They have a month or so before going on a short tour of Europe. Took a minute to recognize Jason Ruck with his haircut and Dave Dupuis stopped to tell me he enjoyed reading my blog on the road, which made me feel pretty nice.

Hunter Costeau of The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra was there, writer Kevin Bronson and Rob Danson of Death To Anders told me they've got a September residency at the Echo. Good job! You know they'll pick some great local acts to open for them.

Film School played an amazing set of their powerful rock which had a grip on the audience from the first song. Greg thrashed around with his guitar creating huge washes of reverb and feedback that practically lift you off the ground, then lead you back into the melody. His energy was impressive, his singing strong (they always benefit when his vocals are miked appropriately) and his harmonies with Lorelei bring the perfect etherial balance to all the bombast below.

I love this band and as much as the CD Hideout is the signature release of Film School, I'm always glad when they include "He's a DeepDeep Lake" (one of my favorite song titles, ever) and "11:11" (with it's amazing ending) from their first CD. Those are two extraordinary compositions, and the two selections from that self-titled CD that show the direction the band was ultimately to take. I owned Hideout first and that was how I knew the band. I went to their myspace page sometime last last year because, being a film scholar, I was intrigued by the name, and, liking what I heard I got the CD.

Then they kept playing in town on nights when I already had competing concerts so it wasn't until February 18, 2008 when they played one of The Pity Party residencies at Spaceland that I saw them for the first time. As soon as they finished I was so overwhelmed I dashed up to the stage and met Greg. Their phenominal bassist, Lorelie Plotczyk, urged me to buy the first CD and I'll always be grateful I took her advice because, as different as it is, it's fun to hear the band play around with different styles. One song, "Sick of the Shame", even sounds like a song by Elbow, but they do a lot of styles on that CD equally well.

They could have gone in a number of different directions, but I love the direction they chose. I applaud the courage and commitment it took to make that decision to pursue a specific musical style that could have alienated first generation fans, but obviously didn't. It's great when a band is willing to risk everything to realize an artistic vision. My hat's off to you.

I've been remiss in not mentioning their drummer, James Smith, whose drumming , sometimes, is the only element pulling all the surrounding swirl together, as his drumming provides the backbone on many songs. Sometimes he's the only one standing between you and chaos.


No comments: