British Sea Power @ Spaceland
Everyone wants to sound like the Arcade Fire these days. Or Wolf Parade, at the very least. Maybe that’s not entirely fair, but last night’s show at Spaceland by British Sea Power, with opening acts White Denim and Colourmusic, was marked predominately by the yelpy vocals that are most commonly associated with those Canadian bands. A really crummy mix sealed the deal- these are probably enjoyable bands to some people, but this reporter remains unconvinced.
Let’s start with Spaceland. It is supposed to be a cool place to hang and see live music. I’d never been there and so was looking forward the show. Shouldn’t have been surprised that the place is a dive; no big deal there. Decently priced tonic water, lots of cute girls, and all the guys have great beards and hoodies. But the sound system is completely terrible and really takes away any chance of enjoying the show on an audiophile level. Which I am.
Openers White Denim were all over the place, wearing their 80s influences firmly on their sleeves but never gaining any serious momentum, instead mostly beating the hell out of their instruments while people didn’t pay much attention and played pool instead. Next were Color Music, and they were at least interesting. More beards on all four of them- bearded men playing guitars. Don’t know why, but they just really seem to stick out and matter, those beards. Some very nice and interesting vocal arrangements made up for the fact that none but the very last song had much impact. That last song, about machines I believe, had everyone buzzing about and swaying back and forth to the beat. But again, the yelping, howling vocals that have been so in vogue for the last two or three years kept the band from achieving their own individual identity. Until they shake off their Talking Heads/Arcade Fire fetish, they’ll never be anything other than really good copycats.
And finally, British Sea Power came out on stage to much excitement. Everyone even left the pool tables. I had a 3rd tonic and lime, hold the vodka. You just wave that bottle of vodka in front of the glass, Mr. Bartender, but don’t pour any in. I’m driving alone tonight.
British Sea Power could be a great band, but the muddy sound mix kept me from finding out and certainly wiped out any chance of hearing what looked to be Abi Fry’s sweeping viola accompaniments to BSP’s driving and forceful songs. The album was just given to me earlier this week so the chance of totally enveloping it and getting to know all the new songs was pretty slim, but it’s certainly growing with each listen. Still, crummy sound and all, the band has an undeniable power on stage and had the audience moving, shouting, and actually paying attention. I’d heard and read how they come onstage dressed in military garb, but tonight they were just dressed like band members. Individual song names slip from memory, but in whole, the night ended on an up note. Seeing a band putting out a show with such obvious enjoyment and professionalism is a joy. I just wish I could have heard the music.