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.

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