Deas Vail was finishing their last song as I'd arrived. They seemed like they played the type of delicate indie pop heavily influenced by the very band they were opening for, only a lot more layered and lush. They definitely didn't seem to be bad--maybe a little wispy for my liking, though. If you like that stuff like that/on the Lydia tip, you might dig.
Person L was next. The two times I've seen them before, ex-Starting Line leader Kenneth Vasoli had already penned a handful of new songs despite the then-recent release of his debut, Initial, and while the sets were good I didn't even recognize half of what the band played. This time around, The Positives has long been released (late last year, actually) and I was able to show restrained enthusiasm toward every song. Only a few other clear fans dotted the floor, though, with the rest of the audience pretty staid toward what was probably the most rock'n'roll band of this particular tour. But they responded politely by clapping along when Vasoli called for it, or between songs to acknowledge the very songs' existence. The auxiliary percussion--a drum-kit situated adjacent to the main one--added a fine element and a fuller sound to the set, while Vasoli thrashed around stage like a blues guitarist on speed during a more soulful, freer number like "Pleasure Is All Mine." I was hoping they'd play that budding, wonderful post-rock-y number that opens The Positives, "Hole in the Fence," which they didn't, but I was pretty pleased otherwise--notably because they played the poignant, earnest centerpiece of Initial ("Sunshine").
Set list (8:22-8:52):
- Good Days
- Pleasure Is All Mine
- The Positives
The newly rejuvenated I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business is actually the only project of Ace Enders' mastermind I haven't heard. But that might only be because you couldn't avoid the Early November as a Drive-Thru fanboy in the early 2000s, and I reviewed When I Hit the Ground, the last full-length from Enders' other band, A Million Different People, for AP last year. Hell, I've interviewed the dude three times. Yet this was my first experience with the ICMAM sound, and it was at least a pleasant one. It was a more restrained, smooth and plaintive take on Enders' usual emo-rock stylings and it made a lot of sense in the context of this lineup. Their setup is a simple and efficient one: Enders on guitar and vocals, his sister on backup vocals and a KORG bass keyboard, and a drummer who looked like he could be ?uestlove's younger brother. I watched most of the set, which included jams like "So I Decided to Give Myself a Reason" and the more intriguing, cascading closer "Whispering Actually." He also played two new songs, one of which was dubbed "Stop Smoking 'Cause It's Not Good for You" and sparked a mild interest in me for that particular forthcoming album.
Copeland's a band I've followed since I finally gave In Motion a fair shake a little over four years ago, but I'd never actually seen them live until now. For some odd reason--because Converge/Modern Life Is War was the night before?--I decided to pass when they played at NYC's Irving Plaza in December '06 alongside the Appleseed Cast and Owen (which I'm now kicking myself for), and I haven't really had a chance to see them since. This being the farewell tour, I figured it was worth attending.
Was it? Yeah, I'd say so. For the most part. A surprisingly rough and gritty take on "Take Care" began the set; growing up on punk, I'd normally prefer this aesthetic, but I think what drew me to Copeland in the first place was the sincerity they managed to retain while sounding so polished. Thus, I was a little concerned that this was a raw edge I couldn't completely get behind. But by the time the title track from 2006's Eat, Sleep, Repeat entered the fold, the band had gotten their glimmer back, and for the better. Its chorus was breathtaking, and I was oddly reminded of the vaguely morose tones of later Sunny Day Real Estate--only with greater, stunning flourishes of atmosphere. It was a major highlight of the set.
2003's Beneath Medicine Tree is an apparent fan favorite and the band seemingly acknowledged that by playing the most songs (five) from it. I enjoy it well enough but its sporadic cheesiness throws me off a bit--I prefer In Motion and Eat, Sleep, Repeat. But the band seemed to ensure that none of the cheesiness would plague the set--they didn't play the bouncy "Walking Downtown," and imbued those five songs they did play from it with a certain air of clean, distilled drama.
One COMPLETELY awkward moment disrupted the set, however, when the band began to saunter into "The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song)," only for frontman Aaron Marsh to abruptly stop it when someone in the crowd yelled "Jesus!!!" A look of death entered Marsh's eyes, he looked straight into the crowd and said under his breath, "Wait. Who said that? Who said that?" Completely serious, he waited for an answer as a dead silence swallowed the room. After a few incredibly tense seconds, someone in the middle admitted his heckling--if it was heckling, even. "Why would you yell that?" asked Marsh weirdly calmly, yet again, completely serious. "At a concert? At a band?" A few more heavy seconds passed and the guy's female companion yelled, "Because Jesus loves you!!" I honestly couldn't tell if she herself was serious or not. But whatever it was, Marsh took it in a confrontational manner and told them, "It sounds like you guys are [mocking] us" and informed them it wasn't appreciated; he then dedicated the next song to them. The crowd applauded Marsh's reaction and the band then went into the song properly. What a weird situation.
While I'm bummed that my favorite album of theirs, the emotionally powerful In Motion, got the least love, I honestly didn't realize it until I put the set list together the following day. But I do think I would've enjoyed the show more if they played, oh, say "Choose the One Who Loves You More," "Sleep," "Don't Slow Down," "Kite"...basically, the rest of the album. The banality of personal preferences, I guess.
Set list (10:05-11:05):
- Take Care
- Careful Now
- I'm a Sucker for a Kind Word
- The Grey Man
- Chin Up
- Control Freak
- Eat, Sleep, Repeat
- The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song)
- Pin Your Wings
- No One Really Wins
- When Paula Sparks
- You Have My Attention
I think Copeland really had a powerful, life-changing album in them they could never quite exorcise out of themselves, but they've had a very solid decade-long run nonetheless, and I'm glad to have witnessed a final piece of it.