I think it’s becoming evident that Eagle*Seagull may be the next indie band from Nebraska to “strike it big” on an (inter)national level. I say this based solely on their new sound and the fact that they’ve managed to build a sizable following in Omaha and elsewhere. I’ve been told that their debut album has sold multiple-thousand copies (some say 5,000, some say 20,000). And now they’re headed to Europe on a tour that is selling well. To top it off, there are various rumors as to who the band will be working with on their next CD. But the real key to me was the vibe at Friday night’s show — it had the essence of a Creek show, every table was filled and people were crowding the aisles. No, it wasn’t “sold out,” but it was impressive.
I missed opener Kite Pilot, but was told that their set was “daring” from a person who doesn’t make those statements lightly. Like E*S, KP has changed their sound, cutting away the proggie tendencies heard on their last record for a more stripped-down punk approach. From the feedback I’ve been hearing, the change is for the better. I did get there in time for Landing on the Moon — one of their last shows for a long time, as drummer/vocalist Oliver Morgan is poised to hit the road with Little Brazil in support of that band’s new album. LotM took the opportunity to roll out a handful of new songs (including, I’m told, a cover of an old Reset number) that were darker and denser than anything on their debut EP. Perhaps it reflects the shift that I’m hearing from so many other bands away from lighter, jangly indie music to stuff that borders on heavy rock or punk (more evidence of a wilting indie sound? Maybe…). To appease those looking for the old stuff, LotM closed with the crowd-favorite ballad, “She’s Moving Out,” from the EP.
Last up was E*S, and now is a good time as any to pass on a quick note about the house sound. The venue continues to tweak their set up, and every night is a different experience. Friday night the levels were high bordering on brash with tons of low-end. I blame the bands as much as the PA. Interestingly, on either side of the stage stood a stack of EV speakers that had yet to be hooked up. Owner Mike Coldewey said he didn’t want to mess with what they’d set up soundwise for the weekend. When hooked up, the new speakers will add “inside coverage,” he said, rounding out the bottom end and making the place even louder.
Eagle*Seagull was plenty loud as it was. I’ve said it before, but I’ll pile on here: They’re evolving into an indie dance-rock band. I read their interview in The City Weekly where they say their new sound is influenced by Eno, and I have to admit, I heard it in the new stuff, which had a similar rhythmic trance quality as Eno’s early work with Talking Heads (Fear of Music). That cyclical rhythmic style has been incorporated into everything, including songs from their first album. On the other end of the spectrum is that strut-rock rhythm that I’ve compared to Franz Ferdinand — a comparison that still kinda/sorta fits. Fact is, the most out-front aspect of the band is Eli Mardock’s quivering vocals — it’s something you either enjoy/tolerate or drives you away. I find it interesting… initially. Then it can get tiresome (especially on the record). The good news is the quiver is less pronounced on stage these days, certainly less than heard on the debut CD. Eli could smooth it out even more (like Conor seems to have done over the years), but would be losing something if he filtered the quiver out altogether (one assumes the vocal affectation is purposeful, and hence, could be eliminated if desired). The other standout is the violin, which is front-and-center in the new arrangements. One patron told me the combination of Eli’s vocals and the violin reminded him of Dexy’s Midnight Runners (1982’s “Come on Eileen”). I kind of see what he was saying, but I don’t buy it. Anyway… next stop Europe. God only knows what effect that’ll have on the band.
Big show tonight at Sokol Underground: Appleseed Cast is headlining, but it’s the openers that really pique my interest. Little Brazil likely will be running through tracks off their soon-to-be-released CD, Tighten the Noose. That alone is worth $8. But after LB is Asobi Seksu, which I wrote about last week (read the story here). You like your music shimmering and trancelike with a chanteuse cutting through the sonic haze? You’re in for a real treat. This is one of the hottest bands in the country right now. See them while they’re still opening shows instead of headlining them. Too bad I’m going to miss it as I’m under the weather today…
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