Some thoughts on Saturday night’s Kite Pilot CD release show, a few days after the fact… I got there toward the end of Eagle*Seagulls’ usual superb set, more evidence that these guys are positioned to take over the world, if they so choose. Frontman Eli Mardock has even taken the drastic step of shaving his once-shaggy head — an unmistakable fashion statement (unless, of course, spring fleas had something to do with the shearing). I recognized songs from their debut that I’ve heard two or three other times on stage. They’ve never sounded so big, but I had to wonder what’s next for these guys. They started off as Lincoln’s version of The Arcade Fire mixed with Interpol, they morphed into a sublime version of Wolf Parade and now have come out on the other side wholly on their own, with no one left to compare them to.
Next came Kite Pilot featuring two additional trumpet players and Spring Gun guitarist Nate Mickish helping out on a few numbers. Like Eagle*Seagull, the band has never sounded better. I credit the Sokol Underground’s sound system and the dozens of family and friends in the crowd lending their support (Among them, two members of The Protoculture, who told me they have an O’Leaver’s gig scheduled in the coming weeks).
Things started off with a bang when keyboardist/trumpeter Todd Hanton threw a dozen or so plush teddy bears into the crowd. One got lodged on the lighting equipment, which resulted in some guy putting his bottle of beer on the ground while his buddy hoisted him up to get it. He missed, dropped backward and landed on the bottle, which exploded beneath his feet. Someone else got the teddy, eventually.
The bears were a cute touch, and cuteness is exactly what this band doesn’t need any more of, especially with darling frontwoman Erica Hanton sounding more and more like Bjork on songs that are already sweet sweet sweet… but not as sweet as the tunes heard on the band’s debut EP. Kite Pilot’s new album is something of a tough sell — a more serious recording that doesn’t easily invite dancing. Unlike the EP, which is a pop gem.
One of the night’s standouts was drummer Jeremy Stanosheck, who came into his own providing the tightest, strongest performance I’ve ever seen from him with any band — an accomplishment, considering the sometimes intricate arrangements on the proggy new songs which made up most of set. The band finished with “a new one” that was the best tune of the night. The sound wasn’t a new direction as much as a welcome return to the pop style heard on their EP, complete with some wicked group singing. This new direction — or return direction — is where I’d like to hear this band go next. Judging from the crowd response, I’m not alone.
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