Enchanted Islands, Beep Beep‘s new CD on Saddle Creek, is one of my favorites so far this year. Eric Bemberger and former band member Chris Hughes managed to figure out a way to streamline and soften the edges to their more-challenging, abstract music while adding a new dimension with songs that are mellow and catchy yet just as subversive as typical Beep Beep fare.
That said, the band’s CD release show at The Waiting Room Saturday night didn’t capture the album’s essence and power, maybe because they’re still learning how to perform the music live. Like the Barley St. show about a month ago, they didn’t play any of the new album’s slower, mellower stuff. The one exception was “The Lion’s Mouth,” which featured James Reilly singing from within the crowd. Reilly still seems tentative on vocals, almost as if he’s holding back, unsure of himself. He was barely audible throughout the set. He needs to throw himself into these songs like he does with his other band, Pharmacy Spirits.
Missing from the ensemble was new drummer Ian Francis, who Bemberger said had a previous engagement (i.e. another gig). He was replaced for this show with Ben Armstrong (Head of Femur), who just so happened to play drums on Enchanted Islands. Bemberger was his usual preening self — strange and awkward like a schoolgirl who just discovered s/he’s a schoolboy. Darren Keen, on the other hand, continues to be the lion who roared, this time with his shirt off (and no, he didn’t go “Full Monty” (like at his TSITR CD release show) during his excellent opening set). This is a strong , talented band. I hope it gets the time it needs to develop into a band that can transport its audience to those elusive Enchanted Islands, mellow stuff and all. Here’s an action photo from the show.
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Omaha punk rock heroes Box Elders, hot off a recent tour that included a handful of shows at SXSW, are opening for Quintron and Miss Pussycat and Psychedelic Horseshit tonight at The Waiting Room. $9, 9 p.m.
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