Friday, March 30, 2012

ACRN Presents: Emily and the Complexes, Vagrant Beat and Mom's Weekend / March 29 / Casa

By: Kyle Rutherford, Staff Writer

With a gorgeous spring day winding into the evening and later, Athens was abuzz during the first “Thirsty Thursday” of the quarter. Inside Casa Cantina, things were going strong for the three-band lineup of Columbus’ Emily & the Complexes, with Mom’s Weekend and Vagrant Beat, both of Athens.

Vagrant Beat started the show off with their strong style, and keeping everything intact throughout, even through sketchy microphone quality. Their brilliant blend of post-hardcore with progressive noise rock radiated through their fast-paced energy and experimental playing styles. Guitar effects worked highly to the advantage of everyone, and the finger-picked bass guitar was highly noticeable.

What amazed me most about the set were the drummer’s hands. I’m not saying that he has pretty hands as a person, but as a drummer. I was able to just sit and stare beyond his snare drum and just watch how quick his hands would vibrate, and how through such speedy playing, he stayed precise with every beat.

Next out was Mom’s Weekend, blaring a post-pop-punk set, with a high emphasis on a throaty-emo style vocals. The duo took a sped-up approach to their music, and it worked out well, even if their song meanings were a bit strange. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t blatantly proclaim to a bar crowd that my next song was about “fucking M.I.L.F.S. during Mom’s Weekend.”

Besides that awkwardness, they were able to keep hold of a great, energetic set.

Last was a new Emily & the Complexes. Every time I see them play, they grow exponentially.

The first show was just Tyler Verhagen and his guitar. It was raw, but showed his true prowess. Three-and-a-half weeks ago, I saw Verhagen with a bassist and drummer added. This time, another guitarist was added. And boy did that addition make a difference.

Emily & the Complexes brings an interesting style to their live show that is able to cut their soft, indie style sound into a slow song, and just let Verhagen croon the crowd over. Other times, you see Verhagen and company giving themselves more loose movement, exploring the stage in a punk-like manner, with Tyler’s passionate yells coming over the strong riffage. Sometimes, both styles are meshed during one song.

This new guitarist brought more power to the group and gave way to more creative writing options for future songs. The four-piece closed their show with two of their strongest and most compelling songs. The blues-like lyrics of “I Don’t Want to Brush My Teeth” brought on a somber feel to the bar. Finally, the gem love-song “Would You” brought a lightness to the night, and possibly kept the anticipation of seeing the group perform in the future in the back of audience members' minds.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

ACRN Presents: Blithe Field, Old Worlds, and Whirl / March 1 / The Smiling Skull

By: Kyle Rutherford, Staff Writer

The crowd at The Smiling Skull were chilled out, but excited for the show that was brought to them Thursday night, with a lineup of music on the weirder side, everyone seemed to be pleased.

First out was noise/electronic act Whirl, a duo that consisted of Death Beef, and Matt Umland of Tin Armor. The Columbus group held no true structure to their sound, no set list, but more of an improvisational set that lasted a good 30 minutes STRAIGHT.

The music was ambient, but had an awe-inspiring power to it, with glitched-out synths, completely layered with different effects pedals. It was one of those sets that you just have to watch the performance to experience it for yourself.

Next was Columbus's Old Worlds, an experimental mathcore/emo/post-rock group that held a tight influence from every single instrument used, even using soft, near opera-like vocals. The 5 piece consisted of a the typical guitarist/drummer/bassist trio, but added in a KORG synthesizer player, and a violinist who had almost more effects pedals than the band's guitarist. Vocally, the group's male vocalists had the kind of voice that could remind one of old Jimmy Eat World, with the female synth and bass players adding a lighter harmony to it. Instrumentally, the music seemed slightly ambient at times, with the experimental qualities of The Fall of Troy and Dance Gavin Dance. What impressed me the most instrumentally was the guitarist/vocalist kept to a finger-picking technique throughout most of the songs.

Last was Athens' own sample electronic Blithe Field. With recent hype and his April 12 release of Warm Blood coming close, and with a recent spotlight in Alternative Press, OU senior Spencer Radcliffe brought his typical A-Game, mixing many of his older tracks and even premiering a new song from the upcoming album.

One may think that the Skull would be out of Radcliffe's element when it comes to venues, but the difference in setting gave him a particular advantage, where front-row members were within arm's reach of him, giving attendees a more intimate experience.