Friday, January 25, 2008

Live Review: OFFICE - 12/19/07

(OFFICE - Photo by Tara Rogan)

Download: Office - "Oh My"
Download: Via Audio - "We Can Be Good"

I don’t know if it’s the fact that 400 Bar is just a great venue, or if it’s pure luck that I always see fantastic shows whenever I go there. The Via Audio/Tigercity/OFFICE show on December 19 was no exception, as it was nothing short of wildly entertaining and extraordinarily diverse, both in terms of sound and the crowd itself.

The turnout was excellent, which I always like to see when there’s a night chock-full of amazing artists who are just starting to be seen and heard in a vast sea of indie-pop. Patrons ranged from young hipster kids to middle-aged wine drinkers who were looking for something different to do on a Wednesday night. It was a perfect crowd for this eclectic mix of bands who provide a little bit of something for everyone.

Via Audio opened the show promptly at 9, and with the onslaught of male and female vocal pairings these days (Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, West Indian Girl, to name only a few), these Brooklyn kids up the antie and showcase the vocals of all 4 members on several of their songs. Vocalist/guitarist Jessica Martins is a tiny little brunette spitfire with a voice that’s velvety and bittersweet, reminiscent of St. Vincent’s Annie Clark and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. Martins was like an audio chameleon, shifting from melancholy to giddy to sad to giggly, all the while contorting her body and enrapturing the crowd watching. On tunes like ‘Modern Day Saint,’ Via Audio’s vocals and instrumental backdrop meshed like a mini indie-pop choir, with a perfect formula of catchy lyrics and addictive melodies.

Current Brooklyn residents Tigercity followed suit, sounding like trashy, sleazy disco meets 80s Lionel Richie meets modern indie pop. In other words, they’re in a class all their own. Seeing Tigercity live solidified two things for me: that this band is ridiculously fun to hear and to watch, and that vocalist Bill Gillim can seriously hit some mean falsetto notes live as well as in the studio. They played a majority of the tracks from their newest EP Pretend Not to Love, songs that are first-listen friendly with pop-soaked synthesizer melodies and hypnotic harmonizing vocals, echoing Prince during the Purple Rain era. "Are You Sensation?" and "Other Girls" played like Tigercity’s anthems to the sequined, glamorous nightlife vibe, and for a few moments, lost in the trance of their infectious sound and keyboard rhythms, I swear to you I forgot that I was in Minneapolis and not New York City.

OFFICE’s Scott Masson took the stage solo with his guitar for their first song, and dedicated the song to his grandfather, who watched quietly from the back of the bar. It was bittersweet and lyrically poignant, reminiscent of old Weezer tracks with only Rivers Cuomo and his acoustic guitar: and it was a great segway into OFFICE’s more raucous pop stuff that they’re known for. ‘Company Calls’ brought even the wallflowers from the dark corners of the bar out onto the floor, to shake their money makers and watch the amazing talents of this truly great indie-pop band. Keyboardist Jessica Gonyea barely let her feet touch the ground as she flailed her tambourine, while bassist Tom Smith hopped from the stage to the audience and back again, which prompted many raised beers as well as hoots and hollers for his effort. All I saw of drummer Erica Corniel was a tornado of hair and sticks, and the occasional open-mouthed smile or laugh. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a band have this much fun playing live. Don’t miss Chicago’s OFFICE next time they roll into town. They’re famous for their amazing live shows for a reason, and a 2 song-encore that night only solidified their reputation.

Office MySpace Page

(Tara Rogan)

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