Live Review: Art Bell, An Iris Pattern, Now It’s Overhead

Category: Blog — @ 12:17 pm July 19, 2006

First off, thanks for coming back after a week of nothingness. My report concerning the Breckenridge music scene is that there is no music scene. Going to Colorado is like going to Hawaii or Ireland — you pretty much get what you expect — ’70s-era acoustic hippy tunes a la John Denver or The Grateful Dead. The radio stations play one polyester hit after another, as if you’ve been transported to a land whose music never evolved past Poco, Firefall, Seals & Crofts, Bread, America and England Dan & John Ford Coley. Thank god for iPods. As far as live music goes, everything seems to revolve around Jimmy Buffett. Oh well, you go to Colorado for the mountains, not the music.

So, anyway, thanks for your patience. The headliner at Sokol Underground last night was Now It’s Overhead, but the crowd of around 200 was there for Art Bell, the new Saddle Creek-powered supergroup featuring Orenda Fink on lead vocals and guitar. Backing her was half of Mayday — Dan McCarthy on keyboards, Ryan Fox on bass, Steve Bartolomei on guitar — as well as drummer Corey Broman (Little Brazil, ex-Kite Pilot, ex-Son, Ambulance) and an unknown blonde woman on keyboards and harmony vocals. Quite a powerhouse line-up. Together, they sounded like Neil Young’s Harvest-era band backing Orenda on Azure Ray-style songs. It was laid-back, restrained and somewhat introspective, a natural progression for Fink, a change in direction from the haunting, tribal flow of her recent solo album. No idea who the blonde woman was, but she complimented Orenda’s vocals as well as Maria ever did, but in her own way. They played seven or eight songs, including one rather heavy rocker toward the end (the best of the night), and one song featuring McCarthy on accordion. A solid set that would please any Azure Ray or Orenda Fink fan, though I would have loved it if the band played harder and looser instead of being content merely backing up Orenda’s pretty melodies. I assume the name will be changing shortly, as Orenda introduced the group as “The band formerly known as Art Bell.” Methinks Mr. Bell caught wind of the name, or Orenda is having second thoughts about the moniker.

An Iris Pattern continues to evolve into the rock band it wants to be. Greg Loftis looked comfortable on stage, and the band never sounded better. Joining the group was April Twist from Paper Owls on keyboards and harmony vocals adding a needed delicate touch to the usual rock proceedings. Something tells me these guys could be going places sooner than we think.

Last up was Now It’s Overhead, and my only comment is that the live version their new album hands-down blows away the recording (which isn’t due in stores until August). Stripped down and raw, songs that limp along in the usual, dreamy mid-tempo pace on CD turn roaring and angry and amazing. Andy LeMaster may be a studio genius, but after last night, I’m convinced all that knob-turning wizardry is merely holding him back.

Tonight at O’Leaver’s, it’s the battle of the two-piece noise bands as The Lepers host Columbia, MO’s Megazilla. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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