Digital Leather is about to explode. I say this after seeing the new line-up in action Friday night at a packed O’Leaver’s. The five-piece played a set that tore the place apart. I credit a different approach to their sound from what I heard a few months ago at The Waiting Room — that set took DL songs and ratcheted them into straight-up garage rock/punk, losing all of the subtleties heard on the band’s albums. The result was rather formulaic, kind of boring and “samey.”
That’s all changed with this new line-up. Now with a second keyboard player (frontman Shawn Foree also plays keyboards), the band has pulled back the arrangements to make room, unveiling the melodies heard instead of brashly trodding upon them. The new sound is more post-punk than garage, probably more authentic to what Foree has been doing on recordings. It’s certainly more balanced without taking away any of the energy, judging by how the crowd was rocking to “Styrofoam” and set closer “Studs in Love,” which Foree introduced by saying “I hate this fucking song. I wish I never wrote it.” With a full beard, Foree is starting to resemble an indie version of Jim Morrison circa Morrison Hotel. One things for certain, with the extra keyboard, he’s now free to get more involved on stage and with the crowd — he’s a natural performer. After the last song and before leaving O’Leaver’s “stage” he threw a shout-out to his new keyboard player, Annie Dilocker (ex-Sweet Pea, ex-Hubble) saying “Give it up for fucking Annie. She doesn’t know what she’s in for, but it’s gonna involve a lot of penises.”
DL already has a head start on finding wider exposure, having been managed by the late, great Jay Reatard and being signed to indie stalwart Fat Possum Records. Now comes another bout of SXSW, and then subsequent touring. This is a band that won’t be ignored, and will be the next bunch of locals to break through to the other side — if they survive their hard-living lifestyles. We’ll see what condition they’re later this week in Austin.
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Speaking of Digital Leather, the band’s SXSW interview for Spinner just went online here. Among the highlights are Foree’s love confessions for The Fall, Echo and the Bunnymen and Prince, as well as a retelling of a night in Lafayette that involved the onstage use of a “marital aid.” Watch out, Annie!
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Tonight at The Waiting Room, Chris Crisci’s other band, Appleseed Cast, takes the stage with Dreamed. $12, 9 p.m.
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