Live Review: Shearwater, The Mansion, Chicago, IL (6/24/08)
Last night, I caught one of most solid triple bills of indie art-rock perhaps ever conceived. Well, maybe that's a bit of hyperbole, but it was a very enjoyable show. Shearwater, Frog Eyes, and Evangelicals all brought their A game to Chicago's The Mansion, a former residence turned into a live venue. The Mansion has been open hardly a year, so I was highly curious about what a show there would be like. The venue consisted of high ceilings and the not-quite 18th century design that would befit an evening of baroque indie-music performed with the focus of a veteran chamber ensemble.
Up first were Evangelicals. On record, (that being their debut The Evening Descends, the band frequently is compared to The Flaming Lips, for merely being psychedelically-inclined and for being from the same town. Live, Evangelicals are more muscular, suggesting a musical universe where Joe Strummer embraced otherworldly soundscapes and Beatles-esque songcraft in his post-Clash, pre-Mescalleros wilderness years. Evangelicals on the whole were tight, energetic, and wonderfully chaotic. This shot, low-quality as it is, should give you a pretty good idea as to what you can expect should you choose to see the quartet live in concert sometime soon.
Download: Frog Eyes - "Idle Songs" (via Stereogum)
If The Howling weren't already the title of a horror film from the 1980s, it could perfectly describe Frog Eyes' set. And I'm not just saying that because dude is rockin' a beard and howls at the rafters whenever he becomes passionately involved in his singing. Throughout their spectacular set, the band had a spellbinding presence that seem to border on supernatural. Their brand of spectral indie-rock haunted and captivated the Mansion audience. The group is playing the Triple Rock on Thursday. If you decide to attend, it surely will be a show that you won't forget. And not because the band turns into wolves and murders the audience, Dethklok-style. Except I mean metaphorically and musically.
Buy tickets for the T-Rock show here. Show is 21+.
Last up was Shearwater. Jonathan Meisburg's voice was so powerful and piercing that mere amplification could not contain it. As the band adeptly switched instruments to play selections from their last two creative breakthroughs, Palo Santo, and this year's Rook, the amount of focus to detail--in terms of arrangements, song dynamics, and songcraft--was simply astonishing. Precision and control are key words to describe the Shearwater live experience. The group performs with a flexible discipline that allows warmth and heart-rending humanity to creep into songs which are orchestrally impeccable. The band is playing tonight, with The Haves Have It, at the Entry. It is a show you do not want to miss.
Here are more photos:
Shearwater play tonight at the 7th Street Entry. Tickets are $8 for an 18+ Show. Buy them here.
Buy their album here.
Shearwater MySpace Page
Frog Eyes MySpace Page
Evangelicals MySpace Page
All photos by Jonathan Graef.