Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's not that there aren't any good shows in town tonight.  Beirut and Basia Bulat are playing this evening over at Variety Playhouse. Meanwhile, Celebration, Arbouretum, and The Back Pockets are at The Earl, and Anika is at The Basement.

It's just that there are no good shows for me.  My heart was set on seeing Beirut, and after I got turned away from TuneYards over at The Basement a couple weeks ago, I went on line to buy tickets for Beirut only to find that they were already sold out as well.  I've already been to The Earl twice in the past two days,   thus ruling out the Celebration/Back Pockets show, and I can't quite get up the enthusiasm to go take my chances at The Basement again.

So it looks like it's a quiet night tonight at home.  This is not a bad thing, and I get to post some of the pictures, such as they are, from the past two nights at The Earl, starting with Tuesday night's performance by  Atlanta's Featureless Ghost.  

Featureless Ghost are a duo that plays good, danceable electro-pop behind some strong vocals.  They're a very good band and I hope to hear more from them soon.

Pittsburgh's Xanopticon was just one guy and his laptop.  He reminded me of late-90s Autechre, all rhythm and broken beats but no soul or humanity.  In other words, not my thing, and after five minutes, I was ready to move on to something else.  However, that small portion of the audience who seemed to like it, seemed to like it a lot.

Zola Jesus, on the other hand, pretty much lived up to the hype.  She took to the stage barefoot and wearing a loose, white toga-like affair.  With her white hair and pale skin, the white robe made her look like a cross between The Anti-Goth and Gandalf's daughter.

She was a study in contradictions - she has a big, operatic voice, but according to the show's "official" flyer (as opposed to my attempt), she's only 4' 11" and weighs a mere 90 pounds.  And tiny though she may be, she made no attempt as compensating, taking to the stage barefoot as she did.

Continuing this contradictions theme, she reportedly dropped her opera training due to anxiety and the competitive nature of the art, suggesting stage-fright issues, and she spent almost her entire time on stage as far out of the lights as she could, instead standing in front of the spot light and performing in silhouette most of the evening.  Yet, she also kept walking out to the edge of the stage to tower above the crowd, and even wandered through the audience while still singing, weaving through and brushing against almost every member as if she needed tactile proof of their (or her own) existence.

She was accomapanied by a drummer and three keyboardists, one of whom spent an equal amount of time on percussion.  And when she got her voice going, she was a one-woman force of nature.  It was truly something to hear.

The next evening, Cory Chisel started things off on a much gentler, folky note (and apparently putting his back-up singer to sleep in the process).

I enjoyed Blind Pilot last month at MFNW, and was impressed by the enthusiasm of their young, Portland fan base.  I had no idea that they were so popular in Atlanta, too.  The Earl was at capacity (the show might have sold out for all I knew), and the audience clearly adored the band.  

It was Blind Pilot's third time in Atlanta, and I think they were as surprised as anybody by the audience's enthusiasm.  Someone in the audience blew bubbles toward the stage throughout the set, giving the evening a strange but welcome champagne vibe.  For their last song before their encore, they asked everyone to be quiet, and they came off stage into the audience for an unamplified sing-along, the audience harmonizing surprisingly well (in a Twitter message this morning, drummer Ryan Dobrowski wrote, "Atlanta! You were SO much fun last night. Some of the best group singing I've ever heard. Thank you!").  

For the encore, singer and guitarist Israel Nebeker performed one solo acoustic song, and then the band was joined on stage by Cory Chisel to finish out the night.

So, five bands in two evenings, including two stand-out  performances (Zola Jesus and Blind Pilot), and even the one band that I didn't care for was at least interesting.  There are three more days left to Rocktober, and I will get to see St. Vincent, Austra, Grimes, Ra Ra Riot, Cate Le Bon, Delicate Steve, and Yellow Ostrich, all, amazingly, at The Earl on three consecutive nights.  

So tonight's rest and relaxation are probably warranted.

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