I've been to a few shows at the Middle East, both upstairs and down, and I have never been disappointed. Last night's show was no exception.
We got there far too early to be cool, but it meant we got to stand pretty close to the stage. First up were Akudama. I wasn't expecting much, but they really surprised me. "Dishes" was a pretty, happy little song with a really cute riff at the beginning. "Love" made me smile as well, and all of their music was easy to listen to and enjoyable. They may not set the world on fire, but I might go see them again if they're in the area.
One case of mistaken identity and one Jesse Lacey look-alike later and Exit Clov was on. It's the first time I've seen two violins whipped out at an indie show, and though surprised, I enjoyed it. With a pair of female vocalists and a barefoot guitar player, they played a lot of interesting, varied music. Sometimes you find a band that has a good sound, but only the one. Exit Clov had a host of sounds, from the violins and harmonies of "Violent Berries" to the upbeat "MK Ultra" which has been stuck in my head all day. The broken up lyrics mixed with the synth smartly highlighted the mind control references and made quite a few fans in the crowd.
The Postelles were on next. They weren't bad, but I really didn't find them to be anything special either. However as they were tuning, I leaned over to the friend I'd gone with and remarked that everyone had been playing Fenders all night. "Can't someone mix in a Gibson?" I asked. And then, mere seconds later, the guitarist pulled out a Gibson. Perfect.
Finally, the reason I'd gone out the night before my Bio lab final, Jukebox the Ghost. I'd seen them once before in September and decided that I had to see them again because they make some of the happiest, most infectious indie pop I have ever heard. With only three members (Tommy - guitar, Jesse - drums, Ben - keys) they prove that there are actually bands out there who know how to really play their instruments and make great music. It's not often that you find a band who can pull off a three part song about the apocalypse, complete with an introductory story, and make you come out of it smiling. They started last night off with "Mistletoe" and continued the holiday theme a little later in the show with an absolutely fabulous cover of "What's This?" (I'm a sucker for The Nightmare Before Christmas.) Both their music and quirky stage presence make it impossible not to smile while they're playing, from Jesse playing drums with one hand and the tambourine with the other to Ben attacking his keyboard one moment and throwing his arms up in the air the next. Intra-band smiles and a play between Ben's modulating vocals and Tommy's commanding singing make for a fabulous show that is even better than the recordings on their CD.
Their music is fresh and fun and different, and they've cemented their place in my handful of favorite bands. I cannot possibly recommend them enough. As even more proof of their awesomeness, their new music video for "Victoria," directed by Shervin Lainez:
Nights like these remind me why I wade through so many crappy indie rock shows: sometimes, you find something special.