Live review: Oryx and Crake, Venice is Sinking, Book of Colors @ The Earl, 8/28/2010

While the music was great Saturday night, the crowd was obnoxiously loud. This was especially true during Book of Colors, the first and quietest band on the bill. It can be hard for an opening band to hold the attention of unfamiliar audience members out drinking with their friends on a Saturday night, and it’s especially hard when the opening band is of the slow and pretty variety. Book of Colors did what they could, though, and the set was entertaining in spite of the crowd noise. It’s nice to see an indie band that treats violin, viola, and (occasionally) bowed bass as more than just accessories.

Venice is Sinking is a phenomenal live band. That shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering their excellent new album was recorded live, but they caught me off guard anyway. It’s amazing how well they play as a unit. The vocal harmonies were perfect.

They closed their set with “Bardstown Road,” which was a ballsy choice considering the crowd noise.  The song would have really benefited from silence, but its gradually building qualities were muted in the noisy room. Oh well…clearly not the band’s fault.

Oryx and Crake started their set to the kind of roars you don’t usually hear for a young local band. This was a special occasion, though. The show was to celebrate the release of their new album, which is one of the best things to come out of Atlanta this year. Add to that the fact that the band hasn’t played live in Atlanta since the hype around their debut record really started to build, and it begins to make sense that they sold out The Earl with people anxious to see them.

The band didn’t disappoint, even if the crowd eventually did. Despite the genuinely loud cheers, people persisted in talking over the quieter parts. If the night had two themes, they were “orchestral indie pop” and “people talking.”  Sorry to dwell, but it was irritating.  You’re there to hear the music, right?  If it’s not holding your attention, go to the front bar.

Anyway…the set consisted of all 9 tracks from their debut album. They weren’t entirely in sequence, but the flow was fairly similar – they opened with “Fun Funeral,” closed with “Lullabye,” and dropped album high point “Pretty How Towns” right in the middle.  The pacing on the album is effective, so why mess with a good thing?

It’s got to be difficult keeping 9 musicians in sync, but Oryx and Crake appeared to pull it off without too much strain. They still have the air of a studio band about them, though. The band recreates the album arrangements well, but it still feels like they’re recreating. That’s not such a terrible thing when the recreations are as good as they were on Saturday, but it would be nice to see the songs breathe a bit more live. It should also go away in time, after they get more live performances under their belt. They’ve got the talent and the material, and they didn’t stumble in any of the obvious places. The vocals were particularly on-point; the harmonies and backing vocals all came off cleanly, and Ryan Peoples nailed the tricky parts of both “Superlady” and “Open Your Eyes.”

Complaints about the crowd aside, it was a great night of music from front to back.  If you haven’t done so already, definitely check out the new albums from both Venice is Sinking and Oryx and Crake, and catch them live next time you get the chance.  Oryx and Crake will be at WonderRoot on 9/24.  Get to that one early, because it’s going to hit capacity way quicker than The Earl.

Video of Saturday’s show shot by ifilmbands can be found here.

  1. September 14th, 2010

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