Monday, April 23, 2007

Elf Power w/ Syllable Section & Whale Horse @ Subterranean

I was really just there to see Whale Horse because a friend of mine pointed me to their myspace page. The place was probably only an eighth full when WH began their set. Like most openers, they were treated to the Rainbow of Shyness where no one enters the semi-circle in front of the stage. But they played really well. For a band that hasn’t been around all that long, they were very tight, rawkin’, and mathy. The vocals, at least the way they’re currently presented, are not really my thing, but I still enjoyed the hell out of their set. I spoke to one of the guitarists well after they were finished, but he was well intoxicated by then. They didn’t have any merch to sell, or rather if they did, the guy who had it had possibly gone home already. Either way, expect big things from this band as they have a ton of potential.

Before Syllable Section came on, we were treated to a poem by Thax Douglas who claimed that SS is his “favorite Chicago band.” By halfway through their first song, I could tell that Thax and I would vehemently disagree. I’m trying to think of ways to describe this band’s performance courteously and professionally. I’ll say this. SS is music by chunky nerds for chunky nerds. So if you yourself happen to be a chunky nerd, perhaps you will find them interesting. I’ll just say that they’re not my cup of tea, nor were they the cup of tea for any of my three friends who were in attendance. Factor in that all of us have rather different taste in music, and you get a rather loud condemnation. They basically were trying hard to sound like the Violent Femmes if they were on the Elephant Six label. So it’s definitely not my thing. But they were awful, too. Note that this probably means that Thax is a chunky nerd (but a sweetheart of a fellow based on interactions I’ve had with him).

Elf Power was also introduced by Thax, but the poem was a very quick one. They got right to it, and that goes for breaks in between songs as well. There was no talking or banter, and the crowd seemed to expect that. Elf Power is clearly a talented, very together act. But I have to say that they were rather listless on stage. They appeared to just be going through the motions. I have to think this happens to a lot of bands when they’ve been around for thirteen years, particularly when you’re playing a Thursday night, half-full show at Subterranean. Their core fans were not deterred, each one displaying their own favorite version of the hippie dance. All that said, they had a bright, crisp sound, highlighted by Andrew Rieger’s 12-string guitar and Laura Carter’s cello, keys, and I-mac. The highlight of the set was definitely An Old Familiar Scene, with all members of the band playing harder and more passionately than on the other tracks. In sum, Elf Power really isn’t my thing, but they did play well. It’s too bad more of their fans didn’t come out to see them play.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A self proclaimed food critic I once worked with defined breakfast at my hometown's local diner as, "The worst f'ing breakfast I ever had." Keeping the same theme, Syllable Section was the worst f'ing performance ever.