Ars Phoenix - A Florida duo hits the stage, well rather the floor at one end of the cozy Sova upstairs living room. It is a male/female duo on guitar and keyboards respectively with the guitarist handling the lead vocals. They have programmed drumbeats and some other electronics they work from their posts and manage to create a nice thick sound between the two of them. Immediately I am struck with a Wire-like feeling mostly due to the electronic dirge melodies, but also with a Colin Newman/Howard Devoto vocal style. This continues throughout as the duo creates decent melodies that balance tunefulness and dissonance in a formula that works for me (basically don't lose site of a melody while adding feedback and white noise textures). It is very British as it reminds me of early Ultravox and many more bands from that era. But of course, this fits in well these days as this is a popular style that is easy to grab hold of when done well. And their 45-minute set did not let anyone down tonight from its opening hiss to its conclusion: Joy Division's "Transmission". The crowd was receptive and this was a nice atmosphere tonight.
Silo Halo - "This is where we have a fire alarm" Christin announces as they are seconds away from starting. Thankfully, that is not the case, unlike their Artomatic show recently. Even so, the 30-odd people could have moved out a little more easily at this cozy little place. While I do not want to see mobs of people here, I do hope that DC music lovers will be alert to this 'second Sunday' series that will continue at Sova on the second Sunday of every month. This is the second show I have attended and you get some great music in a nice atmosphere for little to no cost. Silo Halo also has pretty good sound even with the limited PA. The female vocals get a little lost in the mix at times, and feedback is always on edge, but controlled well enough. As for the band, they have a great assertive, edgy, yet dreamy sound created by three members exchanging guitars, basses, and keyboards along with lead vocal shifts. It is all comfortable and just a bit heavier than that of the first band and thankfully there are some very cool original songs they have concocted. They manage to shift light to dark with smooth transitions and balance high end melodic runs with noisy undercurrents. They are getting a bit of press and deserve all of it and more as they are a band on the rise and well worth your time and ear space.
Quote of the Night: Conversation with another DC musician present tonight who I will not name as I personally like the self taught drumming style employed...
Me... "So, do you play anything else besides drums?"
Drummer... "No, I can't even play the drums!"