On the best of days, even with the best of bands? Sometimes the bear eats you.
Such was the case last week when I stopped in primarily to check out James Wagner’s project, Pain in the Yeahs. While I expected the show to be packed, it turned out that for whatever reason attendance was sparse. I was surprised by this as Wagner’s well regarded in this area for a consummate craftsmanship in whatever genre he’s paying attention to at a given moment.
That said, how a band handles low attendance separates those simply playing at artistry from those who are in it to win it. Pain in the Yeahs blew me away, combining the best of 80s Synthpop with a hard edge. This is a group I’ve since added to my rotation in the living room. One man tour de force, Stephanie, wowed the few in the audience with a breathtaking set. Band & the Beat dazzled with a high energy Dream Pop vibe. Not all of this is my kind of music, and I’m ill qualified to judge the skill involved. But I loved what I heard and would check any of them out in future shows. It’s hard not to feel a bit like the scene failed what was an ambitious bill in one of my favorite spots to listen to local music.
Sadly, not all of the groups slated to perform rose to the challenge. While Pain in the Yeahs, Stephanie, and Band & the Beat delivered in spades, treating a room of ten or twelve people like a crowd of thousands? Sapphogeist and Unsay chose instead to hit the road early. I was disappointed by this, as I’ve heard great things about both groups. In an age where money has largely fled the business of making music, a band that’s not willing to set up in front of sparse numbers is, in my humble opinion, not playing for the right reasons. Maybe you can make it without that kind of drive in this day and age, but I somewhat doubt it.
All I can attest to is that I was looking forward to hearing them for the first time. I most likely would have enjoyed their set and written nice things about them, and instead I sat twiddling my thumbs for the hour they were slated to play, along with a handful of people who had specifically come out to support them. I get that a nearly empty room is depressing, but the six people who showed up to hear you play are the six most important people your band has.
I hope they do better next time they come to town.
One Last thing: Socialize, “Suckoid.”
This CD mysteriously showed up next to my laptop while I was hitting the can at Stellas. No idea who they are, the jacket is somewhat cryptic. I dig it though. Kind of a Depeche Mode vibe in spots, other sections reminds me of Duran Duran before they sucked. Maybe a little bit of Elliot Smith in there, as well. Or Hum. Definitely some Hum influence here, which makes me suspect it’s a side project of one of the Wyteshayds.
I assume they’re local, and they have a Soundcloud so you can hear it here.
That’s all I have from last week. Check out these upcoming shows, just in case we aren’t all under water next week from the rising tide.
19 September at 7 PM
The NorVa, Norfolk.
Danielle Ate the Sandwich Album Release w/ Skye Zentz
22 September at 7 PM
Cure Coffeehouse and Brasserie
Agnostic Front / The Unabombers / Paper Trail/ War Bonds
22 September at 7:30 PM
Shaka’s Live, Virginia Beach.
Must Be The Holy Ghost / Sunndrug / Wyteshayds
23 September at 8 PM
Back Bay Brewing, Virginia Beach.
Oahu // TLVS // New Boss // You’re Jovian
23 September at 9 PM
Charlie’s American Cafe, Norfolk.