There’s a lot of ways to say what I’m going to say about the show last night, but I’d like to frame it around Webster Hall. There’s really no way around it. Alice Cohen, Run DMT, and Pigeons did not put on successful shows yesterday. Run DMT started off the evening as a solo act. Normally playing with a larger band, it was clear that he had never played by himself before and was incredibly nervous. His trippy, relaxed tunes might have been alright if it weren’t for the fact that, despite the very nice sound equipment at The Studio, you could not hear anything he was doing except the basic track he had already laid down. No guitar, no bass, no melodica. I don’t think that the music would have been anything particularly groundbreaking if you had been able to, but the poor kid didn’t even have a chance when he was contending with such utter sound nonsense. I will make sure to go see him again under better circumstances.
Alice Cohen played dreamy keyboard driven tunes. Definitely not anything up my alley. Maybe good to put on when you’re spacing out doing work, but it did not make for a compelling live performance. To be fair, I was coming off of an Atlas Sound show; Bradford Cox is the master of one-man-sound-noodling. But, to make matters worse, you absolutely could not hear her guitar or any of the looping she was doing. Are you kidding me? Get it together Webster Hall.
Pigeons was the first full band of the evening, and the sound didn’t get much better, though this group definitely has a lot of potential. The only track I can find floating around the Internet is a nice little psych-pop number you can hear below. Definitely peaks your interest, at least. As for their live show, the band definitely has the right look. They don’t quite have the sound yet. I’m just conjecturing here, but it seems like the singer and the second guitar player are married. I bet they play and record music all the time together at home, and decided to put together a band. They got their friends to play bass and drums, and practiced a few times. This wasn’t quite enough to make their songs transfer to a live setting. The singer/guitarist had some really interesting guitar solos, but wasn’t quite practiced enough to pull them off. The bass and drums were never quite in sync. The vocals (not the fault of the band) wavered between too loud and too soft, and I’m certain she couldn’t hear what she was singing as she struggled through the noise issues. All of these problems obscured the music they were playing, making it difficult to hear the cool, psych-y tunes of their recording in their live performance. If these guys take the time, though, and practice for just a few more months, tighten up a little bit, and gain some confidence, we could definitely have a good band in the making.
The rest of the evening was an improvement. Big Troubles and Twin Sister are more traditional bands, so the sound problems didn’t hinder their sets quite as much. Twin Sister was good, the lead singer has something about her and I could see a lot of people getting into their band (especially since they’re not doing something that everyone else is doing, pretty refreshing). I will say, though, that I didn’t care for it. Vampires With Dreaming Kids has really grown on me in a major way, but the songs sounded a little too synth-driven live, somehow a little too disco-y. I’ll still keep listening to the EP anyways.
Big Troubles are great. A shiny, loud, happy boy band with great guitar noises and short, interesting songs. They improved by leaps in bounds just in the past month since I saw them at Bruar Falls. They upped the energy and put on a show bursting with energetic personality, despite the fact that only one of their microphones worked. Expect big things from these fellows.
So what’s the moral of the story here? I’m never going to a show at The Studio at Webster Hall again, and will probably never recommend one either. It wasn’t just last night. I’ve been to the venue five times and the sound has never been right. It seems to suck the soul out of bands that might otherwise put on an excellent performance. And while I do get a kick out of seeing the juxtaposition between the partiers from upstairs waiting in the coat check line with the nerdy music fans downstairs, I just can’t bare to see another good band give a lackluster performance for reasons out of their control. I feel badly giving so many bad reviews today, but I’ll definitely try to catch all of the first bands again in a better venue. Photos and MP3 below.