The opening band was The Shoenberg Knife Fight Ensemble, who in the interest of full disclosure, are actually friends of mine, so, note the prejudice. Steve Sigl, who has another band called The Happy Casualties, started this band up last year as a side project, but they write and perform with such skill they could easily jump to the front ranks of local bands. And after the wonderful set on this night I think they should play with Manhattan Murder Mystery again, and often.
Wonderfully energetic, a charismatic maniac as lead singer, and talented band members made for a rousing set that set the tone for the evening. Dance, jump, dance, jump. The audience ate it up.
Next came the new three-piece line up of Torches in Trees. I have to say, I was concerned what might happen to their sound after two members left and the skeletal remains of the band carried on. Put those fears to rest. They're still one of the hottest new bands in town and their set on this night sent chills up and down my spine. Still anchored by Azad Cheikosman's (somewhere in that blue photo) remarkable vocals and fuzzy, atmospheric guitar, Bridgette Moody's pounding bass and vocal harmonics, and the heart-stopping thunder of Eric Fabbro's drumming, these three produce an enormous sound with a palpable emotional pull. Mixing selections from their 2 EP's New Blood, New Sight and Carnivora, they even managed to throw in some new songs. Call me crazy, but they may sound even better in this configuration.
I was still conscious as Manhattan Murder Mystery took the stage after midnight and ravaged it. The place was packed, most of the room was slam dancing in slow motion, so that it more resembled waves in the ocean as opposed to a street riot. I climbed on a chair at the back so I could look out over the throbbing mass and see the band as they tried to stay upright, while the audience kept encroaching on the stage space.
Matthew Teardrop managed to get some floor time, flat on his back, as the crowd parted like Moses and that Red Sea routine. Amazingly the music survived and no matter how rough around the edges, the songs sounded solid and the new ones are stand outs. There were footprints on the ceiling by the time the crowd dispersed. Seeing Manhattan Murder Mystery again two days later at Silver Lake Lounge under wildly different circumstances (they went on at 9PM, sober, and still transfixed the audience; had to use a shot from this set) I am convinced their enormous talent can survive any storm.