Tuesday, July 19, 2011

41st & Home EP Release Party @ Biltmore -- 07/18/11

It's always interesting to watch the progression of a band. The first time I saw 41st & Home was at their CD release a little over a year ago. I honestly didn't even know who they were -- I was just going to see Aidan Knight and We Are The City -- and I thought their set was okay.
Between that show and now, they took place in last year's Peak Performance Project, had some minor lineup shakeups, have been selected again for this year's PPP, recorded a new EP, and just gained a lot more experience in general.

First up was Young Liars, who had all the synth on stage with them. Their set was full of upbeat and poppy synth driven songs-- unsurprisingly -- which were good, but seemed to all kind of blended together, without much variation. Despite that, and a bit of a lack of stage presence, they were still entertaining, and a perfectly good choice to open the show.

Oh No! Yoko was up next, who I have heard a lot about to be the next big "it" band. And when I saw them the first time, I thought they definitely had potential -- and still do -- but while their hype have grown massively since then I don't think their talent has caught up to it just yet.
They were joined by Evan Konrad of Bed of Stars on guitar, and they really do put on an energetic live show with some catchy pop-rock, but, much like Young Liars, they didn't seem to have too much variation or depth. Aside from one slower, quieter song, a lot of them bled together, ending and starting abruptly. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike the band, but I sometimes feel like I am one of the few people who haven't bought into the hype, I just don't seem to think they're as utterly amazing as many others seem to.

And finally, it was time for 41st & Home. They took the stage with faces painted, and joined by some friends; Andrew Lee playing trumpet and Christine McAvoy on saxaphone for a few songs. The band has gotten leagues better in the last year -- I'm sure in no small part due to the aforementioned Peak Performance Project -- and it showed right off the bat. Some of their songs still follow the "rise to a grand climax" structure, but their newer stuff especially is a bit more varied. They started off the set with the first couple tracks from their new Raised By Wolves EP, the instrumental "Summons", during which Thom broke a string on his guitar, which led into the handclapping "Modern Medicine". There were some feedback problems during the first few songs, but those were sorted out and not terribly distracting.
Mid way through he set they had even more friends join them when members of The Belle Game and The Ruffled Feathers came out for backup vocals on the intense "Wilderness Eyes" (which was one of the few times Andrew Lee was not on stage, despite the fact that he plays for all three bands sharing the stage) and later for some extra drumming, on the floor in front of the stage, for "Gorbachev". Other highlights were the always grandiose "Eva" and "Hummingbird", which had a very dynamic and intense ending, which was definitely helped out and given depth by the horns and sax backing the band up.
They also brought back the "Tuning Jazz" when Thom needed to tune his guitar, instead of standing around in awkward silence, or try to talk and tune, their keyboard player Patrick played some smooth jazz until Thom was ready to go. They ended the set with the title track, and last song, from the EP, without bothering with the whole faux-encore, which always makes me happy, when bands play straight through through to the end.

They put on a really fun and energetic show, and it's been pretty cool watching them progress as a band. Hopefully they will continue this upward progression to their next full length.
And, hey, they got to play last at their own CD release this time!

setlist
Summons, Modern Medicine, Memory Boy, Great Bear, Wilderness Eyes, Hummingbird, Sleeper, Eva, Gorbachev, Raised by Wolves.

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