Elysian Fields - You will forgive me if when seeing a stand-up bass, a female singer, and a guitarist (albeit electric), I would some sort of Americana folk sound. Well, no, not terribly close. But even with the tremendous lounge singing, the jazz look and style of the bass, the guitar work indeed heads down more of a California coastal road. There is a bit of jangle and atmospheric rock sound and because he plays with such care, he is able to integrate this sound with that of his two bandmates. This is pretty unique and although the crowd is slow to build up to its eventual size, they are extremely rapt and attentive. This was a nice captivating set from a band who has an assured sound and really engaged a Friday night crowd through quiet drama. And they debuted two brand new songs as a special treat for the crowd.
Mercury Rev - Electronic pop is not my forte, especially when inundated with it when I am reviewing records. But I have heard this band is really good at it and carries it further than most. They are off to a good start before they even approach the stage with mysterious entrance music, back lighting and fog. It is a good look as the band sneaks its way to stage. They play with guitars, bass, drums, keyboard, and flute and have much more of an edge than I would have guessed. The rhythm section is strong with some punchy tom tom work. The bass is melodic and the guitar has some ringing dramatic yet steady runs. The pinched vocals are the real drama of these songs--it does not seem like it would work, but it really does captivate the crowd and sets the music soaring. They have the guts of an Ultravox with the vocal stylings of a Fuschia and somehow merge a pop new wave sound into something progressive, yet simple. This was a pleasant surprise and Mercury Rev just may pull in all kinds of open minded music fans with their assured approach, as long as mild skeptics like me give them the chance.
Quote of the Night: From Mercury Rev, perhaps explaining some of their magic... "That one was inspired by your hardcore scene in the early 80s".