Domestica (and whatever happened to Mercy Rule); Live Review: Blue Scholars; TSRTS/Whipkey tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 6:43 pm November 21, 2007

Just posted, a nice long feature on Domestica (read it here). The story begins in 1999 discussing the reasons behind the break-up of Mercy Rule, and runs through their one-off reunion at The Brothers in 2006 and eventual step forward as Domestica. It’s a heartwarming story that you can share with your families tomorrow at Thanksgiving dinner. The article was so long that I had to use this week’s Lazy-i column space to get it all in (so no column tomorrow).

One part that didn’t make it into the article: The story behind Mercy Rule’s lighting. Anyone who ever saw the band in its heyday in the ’90s will remember how Mercy Rule used flood lights mounted on the stage — pointed straight up — producing an eerie yet cool hatchet-lighting effect. Jon Taylor said he got the idea after going to a Flaming Lips concert. Before the band went on while the stage was still dark, the club was filled with smoke. An unseen voice came over the PA saying, “Don’t breath the smoke.” He thought he was going to suffocate when suddenly the stage lit up with blinding flood lights pointed directly into the crowd, cutting through the haze. Taylor liked what he saw.

“With four-band lineups, everyone looks the same,” said Domestica frontwoman Heidi Ore (who’s also Taylor’s wife). “If you change your lights, you’ve already changed something.”

“We were always the best lit band of the night,” Taylor said. “Days after a show, we’d get a stack of photos in the mail from someone in the crowd, saying, ‘You guys were really well lit.'” There’s a photo of what it looked like in the story.

I admitted that whenever I went to Domestica shows I was a little disappointed that the lights were gone, as stupid as it sounds they added something special to those Mercy Rule shows. Taylor said he still has the lighting rig. Will we see it used again at this Saturday night’s show at Slowdown? Keep your fingers crossed.

* * *

I’ve come to believe that hip-hop is best served as a recorded medium. At least that’s always been my experience whenever I’ve gone to a live hip-hop show. Last night’s Blue Scholars’ gig at the Waiting Room, unfortunately, was no exception. All the cool instrumental counter-melodies, all the little subtleties heard on the duo’s CDs, were lost amidst the bass-heavy mix. I know heavy bass is the language of hip-hop — I drive next to the same ridiculous, bass-blasting SUVs that you do, the ones that force you to roll your windows up. I get it. I felt like I was riding in that SUV last night, the bass reducing the beauty of the songs to one long evening of thump-thump-thump. The other disappointment: the rapping. Unlike most hip-hop I’ve heard on MTV or wherever, you can understand every word of every Blue Scholars song… on disc. Blame it on the live setting, where half the battle is getting the crowd into it, but MC Geo’s rhyming sounded forced and rushed, as if he was overextending himself to get above that bass. The only time I felt connected to the band was during the anti-war song “Back Home,” and on one other song where Geo brought the sound down to a whisper before blowing it all up again. Strangely, the Scholars didn’t sing their latest single, “Joe Metro,” probably their most tuneful song which was just released as an EP. Who knows, maybe they kept it as an encore, which the Tuesday-night crowd of around 50 wasn’t going to get, as Geo literally handed the mic over to Psalm One to begin her set.

* * *

Look, no one has to go to work tomorrow, right? So there’s no reason to miss The Song Remains the Same at The Waiting Room with The Whipkey Three. I won’t recast what I’ve already said about TSRTS, just go read this column, which explains the band and what they’re about. $7, 9 p.m.

If I don’t see you tomorrow, have a happy Thanksgiving.

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