Vacationer - Up first is a four piece from Philadelphia. The bassist handles the lead vocals and is augmented with drums, guitar, and keyboards. They are a little soft for my tastes as they mete out the pop music, but the keyboards do some nice things underneath the melodies to create some interest. Their set contains some odd little songs that don't work, but mostly they sound fairly lush and in control. If you like this style, the band may work well for you. Late in the set they sharpened up their playing, finding the zone from where they began. If they can build the middle further, they just might be able to win me over. But not quite tonight.
Niki and the Dove - This is a Swedish male/female duo that is thrilled to be back here for a third time if I heard correctly. And apparently, many people around here are equally thrilled as this show sold out well before showtime. They start out quite dark and exotic with the guy handling multiple electronics, backing vocals and even some live drums. The woman has an atmospheric and powerful voice somewhere between Nina Hagen and Siouxsie Sioux. But as the songs come out, they have some lighter happy fair which while giving a nice contrast, does not sound out of character. That is a tricky line to walk and they handle it with perfect balance (said this reviewer who after the show tripped on an uneven sidewalk and is nursing two sore joints and about a dozen cuts). The music seems fully developed, catchy, deep and the crowd was really digging it with a fair amount of dancing. These two have a grand style to them and even though this style of music is not where I am at my best, I was happy to take in this set with a band that has such broad appeal. There are a few other electronic pop acts selling out bigger clubs (that used to play downstairs at the Black Cat), and I think this band is due for that sort of bump as they combine complexity with accessibility so very well.
Quote of the Night: From the opener... "You guys are so wild, it's making me blush."