Friday, May 23, 2008

Live Review: VHS or Beta, May 9th

Download: VHS or Beta - "Burn It All Down"
Download: Tiger City - "Are You Sensation?"
Download: Maps Of Norway - "Manners"

Friday, May 9 was my first-ever VHS or Beta show, my interest fueled by their reputation for putting on a fantastic live set, coupled with my love for their latest album, Bring On the Comets. They had been a recent discovery for me, after a friend of mine gushed about seeing them at Coachella, claiming, “Their energy is addicting like crack. They are so much fucking fun.” After listening to the rest of their catalogue, I needed to see them in all their glory at 7th Street Entry. Opening were the local Maps of Norway and Brooklyn-based Tigercity, who I had seen perform with Chicago’s OFFICE back in December, and absolutely loved them.

Maps of Norway “opened” the show around 8. I say “opened” because they started off rather clumsily; it was almost as if they didn’t have time to tune or set up properly, and while I’m pretty used to openers often tinkering with sound and fidgeting with instruments, they seemed to be off in their own little world for most of their set. Vocalist Rebecca Leigh was all about eye contact with the band and not so much about connecting with the audience, save a few friends of hers who she came down to greet before the set even ended. The songs themselves weren’t half bad (bass playing was fantastic), but I was so distracted by their stage presence it’s difficult to say. I had heard decent things about Maps of Norway live, and I don’t know if they were just having an off night, but I was confused and a little disappointed.

True to form, Tigercity followed and brought the fierceness of their fun, synth-soaked songs, with vocalist Bill Gillim jamming out with his amazing bravado and fabulously massive gold chain necklace. Tigercity played favorites from their ‘Pretend Not to Love’ EP, including songs ‘Are You Sensation?’ and the electropop jam ‘Other Girls.’ Tigercity have such a fun disco sound, and I can safely say I didn’t see a single body within my vicinity standing still.

By the time VHS or Beta hit the stage, 7th Street was brimming over with bodies, clinking beer bottles and roaring shouts of excitement. Amber spotlights glared forward into our eyes, and 5 silhouettes burst into the starter notes of “Burn It All Down,” stimulating a synchronized bounce from the masses. Newer tracks were definitely the main focus of their set, peppered with older hits like ‘Night on Fire.’ The audience was a literal sea of hands clapping while shouting, ‘Put your hands together and we’ll light this night/We’ll light this night on fire.’ VHS or Beta’s overall sound was clean, sharp and soaring – like their records, only amplified. The guitars during their set were nothing short of brilliant; Craig and Zeke did a phenomenal job of blaring each note and losing themselves in song. We as an audience became our own entity for the time being, which is every concert-lovers’ dream. Nothing else mattered except the music and good company, and when their set ended, you could definitely feel the pulse of energy and excitement lingering with everyone who experienced it.

VHS or Beta MySpace Page
Tigercity MySpace Page
Maps of Norway MySpace Page

(Tara Rogan)



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