Dead Confederate | 09.29.08

deadconf.jpgThe band’s most obvious strength is its grasp of the Nirvana loud chorus/soft verses dynamic; a crushing rush from occasionally spacey guitar noodling and clear and clean melodies to screeched, clearly Cobain-indebted vocals and thrashing power chords with a surprisingly sturdy bottom end.

 

 

The Bluebird, St. Louis

 

Dead Confederate may have all the media push of an up and coming band releasing its debut album (mainstream press reviews, Facebook ads etc.), but their show at the Bluebird felt underground in the best way possible. The members of the band blended almost seamlessly into the small, largely hipster crowd (aside from irregularly tall and majestically bearded guitarist Walker Howle, who probably stands out anywhere), making the gig feel like attendees were being let in on the next big local band that might break despite the aforementioned label push and the fact that this local band is from Athens, Ga.

Keeping with this modest trend, the band brought along their own hazer (sort of a mini smoke machine) and a couple of larger box lights to the spartan stage setting. The stage banter, aside from a few "thank yous" from lead singer Hardy Morris was memorable only for Morris’ declaration that the crowd should return next time the band comes to town and "bring more friends." The paltry attendance and the touring schedule for his band (who goes out on Monday nights?) suggest that Morris may have to wait awhile to see if Dead Confederate "makes it big" but it’s not like they’re pushing an inferior product. 

Playing looser and heavier than on their recently released Wrecking Ball, the band banged through six originals as Monday night segued into Tuesday morning. The band’s most obvious strength is its grasp of the Nirvana loud chorus/soft verses dynamic; a crushing rush from occasionally spacey guitar noodling and clear and clean melodies to screeched, clearly Cobain-indebted vocals and thrashing power chords with a surprisingly sturdy bottom end. In case anyone in attendance missed the point, the lights would often strobe flash through the dim stage as Morris delivered the chorus and the band hammered on their guitars.

Engaging set and album opener "Heavy Petting" made the band sound like a straightforward rock band, but as the set progressed to spacier, slowly crescendoing fare like "It Was a Rose," potential head-bangers had to wait significantly longer to get their jollies.

The solid rhythm section of bassist Brantley Senn and drummer Jason Scarboro, who hid behind scraggly, Slash-esque locks, anchored the band, adding heft to even the most spaced out of tracks like the twelve minutes plus of  "Flesh Colored Canvas."

The final payoff of each of the songs—a nice drum accompaniment here, an incisive chorus there, pretty great guitar work most places—is significant enough that even those averse to the pretentiousness that usually accompanies so called psych-rock can find something to like. Though the band is clearly indebted to a number of influences both classic (stoner/hard rock, a bit of prog rock) and relatively modern (mostly Nirvana), their choice cherry picking has yielding a promising sound that should continue to develop as the band tours and matures.

If Morris is serious about his band’s bid for stardom, he should work on improving his songwriting. Though the band clearly has something vaguely angsty to say, I have no real idea what it is; raging against the machine for the sake of raging over loud guitars went out of style with the demise of nu-metal. To truly distinguish themselves, the band should stick with their developing balance of riffs and drone and work on delivering hooks and lyrics that hit as hard as their guitars. | Tim Elliott

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