Thursday, January 25, 2007

Interlude: This Charming Band

Camera Obscura, The Essex Green - Jan 24th, 2007
Warsaw, Brooklyn

My previous concert-going experience in the lovely borough of Brooklyn was great, and it was very nice to revisit the area. A pretty brisk trip from the L and G trains brought us to Warsaw, located at the Polish National House, another conquest in the name of indie rock. There's a really nice vibe throughout the area, as the foreboding skyscrapers and crazed taxi drivers are absent, making Brooklyn appear as a far more traditional town. This welcoming aura extended to the venue, a down-to-earth, cozy place, and I really think the atmosphere really enhanced the experience. The actual stage was located in a space reminiscent of a high school dance, complete with disco ball and blasting Beatles hits. The crowd was also great and passionate throughout the night, topping off a great show.

The Essex Green

Merge labelmates and Brooklynites the Essex Green opened things up. It was really apparent how much fun they were having onstage, exchanging smiles and rocking out with conviction. The group is anchored by the dual harmonies of guitarist Chris Ziter and keyboardist Sasha Bell, who traded off lead throughout the set. Sasha has a somewhat quirky, but distinctive voice, and Chris was also quite adept at contributing a soaring backup vocal. They played tight and tuneful songs, and while nothing really blew me over during the set, I'll be sure to check out their studio material. I recommend you do the same:

MP3: The Essex Green - Don't Know Why (You Stay)

Camera Obscura

While the openers split singing duties, Camera Obscura was all about one lady: lead singer and guitarist Tracyanne Campbell. With the departure of fellow singer John Henderson in the interim between Underachievers Please Try Harder and Let's Get Out of This Country, Tracy has become the voice of the band, and her stellar vocals made the set. The lineup reduction has had further effects, in many ways reinvigorating the band's sound, shifting the lo-fi, producer-less earlier works into shimmering, earnest pop. Despite this development, the band retains a sense of restraint, and some of the best moments of the set were simple, with Traceyanne's singing accompanied by a gently strummed guitar. Still, the highlights were undoubtedly the triumphant triumvirate of recent singles - "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken," "Let's Get Out of This Country," and "If Looks Could Kill" - and the best moments where when the band embraced the confidence of new material.

Again, there was more to this show than just the music, as all the members of Camera Obscura were as charming as their songs, with Tracy making some pretty entertaining comments about Polish vodka and Manhattanites grumbling about the location of the show (guilty as charged). While this group hasn't quite reached the personal heights of, say, fellow Scots the Delgados, they're quickly becoming one of the most endearing bands out there. If you get the chance to see them on this or future tours, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Seeing as how they just played at the Cat's Cradle last Saturday, I think it's fitting that I post this set. It was recorded in North Carolina during Merge Fest July 30th, 2004. I've also included their more recent KCRW appearance, recorded on July 19th, 2006.


1. Teenager
2. Anti-Western
3. Keep It Clean
4. A Sister's Social Agony
5. Before You Cry
6. Lunar Sea
7. Sugar Town & Blue Moon
8. Quiet One
9. Eighties Fan
10. Suspended From Class
11. Let Me Go Home

MP3: Camera Obscura - KCRW Set

Official Site: Here
Blog (!): Here
Buy: Here

Apparently, brooklynvegan caught me in the crossfire:


katherine said...

i wanted to see them. :(

Anonymous said...

Can you repost the 2004 concert?


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