Saturday, April 30, 2011

If Everything Single Thing Is Made Of String, Then I Can Forget About Not Forgetting

Last evening's dilemma was to choose between two competing shows, both featuring local Atlanta musicians. James Hall and Futura Bold, a local band recommended to me at a coffee shop by a young woman, were headlining at the Star Bar, with Abby Go Go and Torture Town opening. Meanwhile, over at The Earl, Qurious were opening for Mathis Hunter & The Rinse and the headliner, Adron. I had to choose.

The young lady at the coffee shop was very insistent about James Hall, insistent to the point where I wondered if she wasn't in a relationship with him (or wanted to be in a relationship with him), and I've read a lot of good reviews of Abby Go Go as well. Plus The Star Bar, with its Elvis shrine and all, has long been a favorite Little Five Points neighborhood dive.

But then again, The Earl's always been dependable, and I was, um, curious about Qurious, the band that made the video with the flower blossoms that I posted yesterday. I wondered what they would sound like live. Although I hadn't heard of the other two bands performing, Creative Loafing, Atlanta's local weekly newspaper, posted a little column on their website saying that Qurious was but one of three "hypnotic bands" that would be playing The Earl last night.

I won't go so far as to say that I followed my gut, but my stomach did help make the decision for me. I was hungry, and The Earl makes a fairly decent roadhouse hamburger (I don't think the Star Bar even has a kitchen). I wound up at The Earl, finishing a burger and fries at the bar before the bands took the stage (one doesn't survive on rice and fruit alone). As it turns out, I think I made the right decision, if not about nutrition, then about music.

Qurious turned out to be a young he-and-she duo with obvious Animal Collective influences. The stage was bathed in black light while they performed, while lots of starry laser-light points were projected onto a screen behind them. He wore a child's glow-in-the-dark cat mask while playing synthesizers and percussion, and she played some synth as well and sang in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Memoryhouse. The intersection of Memoryhouse and Animal Collective is not a bad place at all for a band to meet, and their set was interesting and quite enjoyable.

Mathis Hunter & The Rinse turned out to be a quintet quite a bit different from Qurious, playing a sort of groove-intensive hybrid of southern boogie and psych rock. Their excellent bass player provided the strong forward momentum necessary to keep the grooves chugging along, while the organ kept everything sounding trippy and a little spacey. At one point, they even managed to cover Lynyrd Skynyrd's They Call Me The Breeze while sounding only slightly ironic, although it wasn't at all a song I was expecting to hear after Qurious' opening set. The "hypnosis" of their music turned out to be in the groove, which they kept going throughout their entire set.

But the real revelation of the night was Adron. Adron is primarily singer and guitarist Adrienne McCann, an amazing 20-year-old artist influenced by late ‘60s Brazilian tropic├ália and bossa nova. How she came to embrace that particular genre of music, a form that peaked in popularity in another hemisphere a full 20 years before she was born, is a mystery surpassed only by how she became so confident and adept at playing it at such a young age. That these things came together in Atlanta, Georgia, of all places, may be the most amazing part of all. McCann writes her own songs which, while reminiscent of Jobim and Gilberto, are not derivative of either, and amazingly, she wrote the majority of her songs when she was only 15- and 16-years-old. This precociousness has earned her a loyal and adoring audience that last night included a lithe young woman dancing in front of the stage who was able to honestly tell me that she had been coming to Adron shows for 5 years now, despite the fact that McCann is barely out of her teens herself.

To get a better idea of what I'm talking about, listen to her Stringsong, below. There's a compositional complexity to the song that doesn't get in the way of its overall breeziness, just as the lyrics manage to address both quantum string theory and the more typical concerns of an adolescent American girl wondering when the braces will come off her teeth. Throw in the sounds of evening surf, some woodpecker-like percussion, and McCann's graceful nylon-string guitar playing, and you get something sounding like this:

I understand that Adron has recently relocated to New York to advance her career, and if David Byrne doesn't sign her to his Luaka Bop Records soon, there's no real justice in this world.

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