The Twilight Sad - We have a five piece from Scotland opening the show tonight. Pretty nice to get two bands from different continents for $15 at the 9:30 Club, but it appears that while a few hundred people agreed with me, there was room for many more. No matter, the crowd on hand greeted this fairly young shoegaze band with a bit of enthusiasm (measurement is tricky with shoegazers, if not any indie rock band). The band delivered a good, steady set. The sound was pretty predictable with the guitar and bass. The keyboards were more for soundscape than for assertive playing. The drums did their job, although one song sounded surprisingly thuggish to me. I knew it was thuggish beat, both with the obvious conscious thought, but also subliminally as my mind wandered off into an analysis of why Kiss was such a bad band. The singer did a good job delivering attractive vocals above the din. He reminded me of the many polite stylists that filled out rosters on 4AD or Factory (which covers pretty much every singer other than Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays, I suppose). I liked their second to last song best as it had the heaviest sonic roar. Overall it was a good set and they successfully whetted the appetite for all of us awaiting the main course.
Mono - I have seen this Japanese instrumental four piece twice before, at an outdoor stage in Kentucky and last September at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel. Although the crowd was small for the 9:30, it is a big step up from their last venue and they have grown their audience. They've done this by touring hard and releasing ever more interesting albums. Mono really has the dynamics down in the shoegaze genre with very careful builds from quiet to loud. Not every song follows that simple pattern and they adjust tempos to keep things interesting (always a key for instrumental bands). I noticed the quality drumming more than I have in the past, so that may be the key to it. The two guitarists work together well and produce great sounds. The bass player holds it together and adds keyboards in a couple of songs. They are very careful in composition and, not surprisingly, have even played with orchestras recently. Tonight's crowd was reserved, but a careful scan showed that pretty much everyone was focused on the music, quietly swaying and moving with the beat. So, another good show by Mono and they remain on my list of bands I want to see every time they come through.
Coming Attractions: As I approach my 200th post, I am brainstorming on how to add some things to my blog. So stay tuned for some changes and maybe even some essays. I have been a bit slow on some essay plans as my CD reviews take up a lot of time. But I want to keep delivering the musical stories as best I can. And I thank everybody that checks in and reads to the bottom.