Braids - I missed this Montreal trio the last time through, so I was happy to catch them opening the show tonight. And by set's end, I was definitely happy as I always enjoy when a band can win me over in a genre I don't always gravitate toward. Of course, the key was that although the music can be placed in an electronica pop category, they have a rock heft and strong vocal presence that transcends the music well beyond the simple basics of any form. A live drummer is the rock portion, while the other two players work keyboards, although one is often using drum sticks to work a percussion pad that produced keyboard sounds. The female vocals were bright and effectively established the mood of the song. I was not alone as the large crowd warmed to this band as the set went on and gave them a strong ovation when they concluded their 37 minute set.
Wye Oak - It only seems like a few months back when I saw this unknown to me Baltimore duo play an opening set at the small stage at the Black Cat. I saw the talent then and expected better things awaited for them, but I am not sure I expected a nearly sold out 9:30 show to be in the cards. Yet listening to their newer material, it makes perfect sense as this band is as good as most successful acts on the indie rock circuit. I was happy that they saw no need to expand their sound to fit a large arena and still have that unique approach where Andy Stack plays one-handed drums while using his left hand on keyboards. You don't notice anything missing there, although there is still space for Jenn Wasner's strong vocals, accompanied with guitar, bass, or additional keyboards. I think this show fully convinced me how good her vocals are as she exudes a Chrissie Hynde style charimsa and has all the richness of that tone and uses it to push or pull back when the drama of the song requires it. The melodies are excellent and this is smart music that retains its warmth. These two figured out a unique approach early on, stuck to it, and are now getting the rewards... or rather, the large crowds that have found this band are getting the real rewards, as tonight's show proved.
Quote of the Night: from Ms. Wasner... "We're from around here and I saw a lot of shows here and it is pretty crazy to be doing what we are doing tonight."