Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Ocean Blue -- Jammin Java - Nov 21 2015

by John Miller

The Ocean Blue - The band is performing two separate sets this evening; their first two records.  They begin with Cerulean, their effort record. The Ocean Blue have a real easy sound and one that is most decidedly late 80s, early 90s alt rock. They are not quite as aggressive as the music that would come to dominate much of the decade, but this mid-tempo almost slacker rock. Stylistically, it’s like a less complicated Sebadoh. I also hear pieces of the Church, REM, and hints of The Smiths. Acoustic guitar, mixed with electric, steady drums and a fuzzy bass, even some keys. The keys are there to evoke a specific feeling more than anything. The band doesn’t lean on them, they simply reinforce a dreamlike tone; halfway between being awake and asleep on the couch.
This is the first show I have seen at this particular venue that hasn't had an acoustic or folksy bent. Anticipating a similar performance, I was pleasantly surprised that the majority of the members were plugged in. I find myself moving towards the back, comfortably knowing that I can still feel the energy of the set. As with most of these shows I review, I am wholly unfamiliar with the headliner. From what I have gathered The Ocean Blue was a mid level band, always on the cusp of breaking. It's always interesting seeing these types of bands, wondering what if? And tonight is certainly seeped in nostalgic excess. So much energy tonight; sing-a- longs, yelps, and screams of approval as each aside, whether it be pandering to the past, or hocking vinyl records in the back, the crowd responds with no less than rupturing approval. Even though I have yet to go to one of these retrospective shows on my own, I imagine the thrill to hear seminal records in their entirety must be a thrilling and ultimately rewarding experience; the nadir of nostalgia.

Another interesting bit from tonight’s show was the use of a projector. While doing so is certainly nothing new, it was with the way they used it that was new to me. Switching between minimalist images, a retrospective of photos, and tour dates from their heyday, helped further cement the whole idea of reliving the past. These simple images, tour dates with their respective locations (Baltimore, George Mason, Richmond, Virginia Beach) all elicit fanatical responses.

The first set ends up lasting a little less than an hour. The Ocean Blue took a well deserved break and the second set begins around a half hour later. The short intermission does nothing to the audience, as their energy level is constant throughout. As far as any differences between the two albums; the second set, their self titled debut, sounds a lot livelier than the first. The drums play a larger role, more vibrant, quicker than before. There seems to be more variations with the keys as well. More dancing, less shoe gazing, and despite the difference, the crowd is still as boisterous as ever dancing a long like it's 1989.

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