Friday, March 28, 2008

TRASHED: Tilly & the Wall @ The Middle East, 3/22

Welcome to the first installment of "TRASHED." This weekly series will include music reviews that the Daily Free Press has recently "trashed." In other words, these are all articles written by the WTBU staff, that for some reason or another, the DFP just wouldn't print. Enjoy our trash!

Last semester, when Jason Anderson played a WTBU sponsored show at Hillel House, his songs exuded the energy and understanding of an old friend. It all seemed due to the small crowd, acoustic set, and intimate venue. But even when he took the stage last Saturday at a sold-out Middle East Upstairs, the crowd was as engaged as if it were a basement show in suburban New Hampshire.

Accompanied by a handful of musicians known collectively as ‘the Best’, Anderson retold personal stories in the form of powerful, energetic lyrics to light-hearted, fun indie rock. The entire crowd couldn’t help but get involved, every time Jason’s wide eyes and huge smile asked them to clap or sing along with his songs, which seemed more like campfire stories. Tilly in the Wall singer Kianna Alarid was intrigued enough to join him on stage to provide vocals on the epic ending of “So Long,” singing: “The best thing in the world, is to love someone and they love you back,” over and over and over.

Following Anderson was Capgun Coup, a four-man band from Omaha, Nebraska. While they label themselves an indie/experimental/folk rock band, a strong garage element dominated their live performance ridden with wild, unintelligible vocals. The harsh vocals seemed to turn off much of the crowd, but catchy popish beats did their best to lure concert-goers back in… unfortunately, to little avail. Compared to Anderson, an artist with intense crowd-involvement and coherent vocals, Capgun Coup was disadvantaged as most of the confused crowd wandered around the Middle East unsure of what they were listening to. Their sound, almost an awkward collaboration of early Blood Brothers vocals and pop-punk guitar riffs, seemed to alienate well over half of the audience, rather than offer the best of both worlds.

Dressed eccentrically--one in a rainbow rag dress, one in a gold lamè sweater, and one in a black tutu over blue zebra tights--the three Tilly and the Wall front-women finally took the stage at 11:30, chanting, “Bean! Town! Get! Down!” Only a fraction of the audience responded to their call to “get down” at first, but after the first half of the crowd-pleaser-packed set, a dance party erupted--including the band's tap dancer.

Along with their guitarists, drummer, and keyboardist, the 6-piece started the night off with a few songs from their new album, “Beat Control,” which they’re currently recording at home in Omaha. When compared to songs from four years ago, Tilly’s change in sound is a similar vein to Rilo Kiley’s change from More Adventurous to Under the Blacklight; it has heavier beats, it’s more electronic, polished, danceable, and radio-ready, and the band is having a lot of fun with it.

To the delight of older Tilly fans, by the fourth song, “Fell Down the Stairs,” they were already bringing back tracks from 2004’s “Wild Like Children.” Highlights of the set included coordinated dance moves, a couple of quieter songs with only one of the girls singing and guitar, and a “Nights of the Living Dead” rendition that had the whole Middle East screaming: “And I feel so alive, and I feel so alive and I feel…”

They closed the set with “Sing Songs Along,” which seemed to be a theme of the night, particularly during the encore, when the band was requested to play “I Always Knew.” The band was hesitant to tackle the song, explaining that they didn’t remember the words, so instead they directed the microphone to the crowd, to sing the lyrics.

--Sarah J Berg & LP


devon said...

Such an incredible show. I don't know what was better, the tap shoes or the keytar.

However, Tilly's transition to their newer sound isn't half as drastic as Rilo Kiley's swing 'round to the smoky, sketchy bar music of Under the Blacklight. While the former is developing, I felt RK compromised themselves and their sound a little, instead of evolving.

Any thoughts?

jessy said...

Hmmm, I don't think they compromised themselves. I read somewhere that they wanted to make a fun dance album and it succeeds on that level. I think they've earned the right to try something a little different.

Don't worry, I'm sure Jenny will be back to talking heavier things on her next solo album. :)

devon said...

Of course bands have the right to explore new things; I just felt it was an excessive amount of exploration.

And if she does go back...then I'll be placated. But if it's a lasting trend, let's just say my heart won't be melting, one way or another. :]

And did anyone read about the Watson Twins putting out their own new album? Any thoughts?