Hays Holladay - Electronic music courtesy of a member of an electronic/pop band called Bluebrain. It is the usual noise boxes and notebook computer. The electronics are decent and there are a lot of vocals which is something I generally need to alleviate the feeling that I am watching someone play a CD. The vocals were decent but more treated than I felt they needed to be. This was not a bad 25 minutes and the growing crowd was appreciative.
Helado Negro - More of the same from a guy from New York who looked like the drummer from the band Boston. The crowd was up to about 50 people by now and they seemed to enjoy this set. There was not much dancing, but the electronics were secondary to his singing. There was a personal pop style at work with lyrics in Spanish and rhythms in that direction, but not to any classical salsa style. There was one song in particular where he was headed in the direction of modern Scott Walker material. That was indeed interesting, although much of the rest of the set was lighter in tone. A bit long at 45 minutes, but engaging.
EMA - First I would like to thank Walter Hill for making an excellent movie "Southern Comfort" which distracted me from going to this club on Saturday night instead of tonight. And thanks to the Flix Network for showing this movie instead of any of his other movies which I easily could avoided (The Warriors, anyone?). So my itch for live music lead me to this intriguing four-piece. They were lead by a tall blonde woman on guitar and vocals with a key musician on violin and keyboards, her sister on drums, and a woman playing guitar and violin who they recruited a week and a half ago to join the tour. The combination of vision, musical chops, and improvisational assistance worked its magic tonight. The music was atmospheric, but intense. They could mold quiet passages that grabbed the listener better than most heavier rock bands. They did have a really cool droning song that sounded like Mudhoney covering New Order. But mostly it was more like the Joy Formidable covering Nico. Way cool set here. Even the a capella song worked. There was also an intense Patti Smith like rap over a two violin and drum background. This music was varied yet cohesive. I hope they can continue working with a full band with the ability to thicken and thin out the arrangements in interesting ways. If they do, the songwriting and presence is there for there to be great things ahead. This will be interesting to watch.
Quote of the Night: Holladay closed his non-stop set by breaking silence with a "thank-you" which cues the audience to react. During the applause, someone asked "Is there a Q+A?" which better expresses my awkward feelings at watching a guy at a computer on stage.