Friday, April 13, 2007

Interlude: Memories


New York is a labyrinth of clubs, bars and venues, and it's only natural that the occasional gem slips through the cracks. My acquaintance with Vedera began a few years ago, back when the band was known as Veda. I became intrigued when the band was compared to Eisley, and spun their debut album, The Weight of an Empty Room, as recently as a few weeks ago. As I was trawling various concert listings, I realized that they were playing no less than three local shows in as many days, including two at favorite dives (that is, ones I've visited multiple times), Club Europa and the Knitting Factory. I opted for the latter show, and while the travel time was definitely cut down, I'm uncertain if going to the earlier one would have been a better experience.

Fight of Your Life

Fight of Your Life also reminded me of my musical tastes a few years ago, but of areas that aren't nearly as fondly remembered. I can say that the band was very dynamic onstage, and evoked a sense of communal appreciation for music, but aside from that, I was relatively unmoved. Unfortunately the night's continued technical problems made an appearance, and singer Rene's vocals were buried in the mix of somewhat obvious guitar-work. While the band slowed things down in "Leave the Light On," even this foray into the melodic was rather generic. Still, I'm biased here, and feel free to listen below and form your own thoughts.

MySpace: Fight of Your Life

This Is Me Smiling

Chicago natives This Is Me Smiling provided a very interesting take on indie rock, with much of this freshness coming from Sheldon Miller's frenetic work on the piano, organ and occasionally tambourine. Meanwhile, guitarist Dan Duszynski provided sustained but restrained vocal and instrumental groove. While the band's material is relatively flippant, with themes like, "Mixin' Up Adjectives," it was a welcome detachment from the drama (both good and poor) that pervaded the rest of the evening. All in all, the set was a very good time


I'm sorry to say that Vedera's set was suboptimal. A lengthy soundcheck didn't eradicate all the technical issues, and the group's greatest strength - Kristen May's massive voice - suffered as a result. She's undoubtedly one of the most powerful vocalists I've ever witnessed in action, but she had the painful side effect of overloading the tap bar's less-than-ideal soundsystem, turning those soaring hooks into eardrum-lacerating distortion. Thus, I spent the first half of the set in partial recoil, despite the appearance of a number of new songs.

Things were much better when Kristen switched to the Yamaha keyboard, and that other microphone seemed much more tolerant of vocal heights. Particularly memorable moments were the soaring guitar on "The Falling Kind" and the sublime simplicity of "Lover's Lie." The new material struck a similar tone with its blend of bombastic balladry and sweet vulnerability. Their finale, a new song, really synthesized all of these elements, with Kristen switching from guitar to keys halfway through, making for a brilliant end that redeemed the earlier abrasiveness. I can't wait to hear the band's sophomore release, and hopefully our next show together will go more smoothly.

MySpace: Vedera

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