Eisley | 04.08.08

live_eisley_sm.jpgAs the night wore on, the crowd was treated to deadpan commentary worthy of Arrested Development. 

Pop’s Nightclub, Sauget


It was a dark and stormy night, but no one would have known if they got to Pop’s when the doors initially opened.  At 7:30 p.m., a good number of people were seated already, at the tables spread amidst the scaled-down, curtained-off version of the club.  Fans leaned on the fringes of the stage, looking like the bands they were there to see, self-consciously individualized with their hairstyles, outfits and accessories of varying sorts.  Based on looks, everyone could be a musician, a Mac user, or a designer on Project Runway.  The bar was sparsely populated and not very active, heralding a large turnout of Minors, or at least a crowd that didn’t care for much alcohol.

That said, you’d expect the typical St. Louis: "We are here to look at you while you sweat and play our favorite songs, our outfits aren’t built for much more than that, sorry."  But to quote Sherri "Eisley" Dupree, "I knew it was going to be a good show when we pulled in and saw the strip clubs and factories."

The opening act The Envy Corps warmed the crowd up with an energetic set that rocked harder and throbbed funkier than you’d expect from a band out of Ames, Iowa. They worked up a good vibe with upbeat rock that it would be easy to compare to Modest Mouse’s Good News for People Who Like Bad News, or Mae’s Destination: Beautiful if you’re an Indie Rock Guy.  If you’re a New Wave guy, you would probably hear the Talking Heads or Franz Ferdinand in what they do.  The College Rocker in me hears just a little of the Pixies, but the Alternative Rocker in me says Weezer, cause they’ve got the keyboards.  They filled the room with sound, and were animated in a way that you would have hoped got people out of their seats, but instead many choose to lounge and nod their heads, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

The Envy Corps were followed by the night "ringers" for those in the know: Vedera—the next big thing out of Kansas City.  Vedera have one record under their belts that was released independently, The Weight of an Empty Room.  A good amount of their set came from that record, as well as material from their Epic Records debut due out this year.  Vedera compose the kind of songs that make you want to scale mountains and stand triumphantly at the peak.  It’s the kind of indie rock music that values a good beat and bass line, but also knows the power of hypnotic guitar and keys.  Their opener was a towering monument to the power of a great backbeat, voice, and guitars aimed squarely for the heavens, figuratively and literally. Their enthusiasm and affection for the crowd’s support only served to foster more goodwill, and this attitude added to the good vibes the carried on through the night.  Those vibes no doubt were influenced by their powerful set that left the majority of the crowd rocking and swaying with knowing grins on our faces.  Two acts out of four and it was already a great show.

The next act up was Seattle’s the Myriad, who were featured on the MTV2 Dew Circuit tour (they won the whole thing, actually).  They too are promoting their first major label release after releasing their debut on Floodgate Records in 2005.  They took the stage subject to a few technical difficulties involving the keyboard levels, but that’s nothing a little stage banter about Massive Attack and foam machines wouldn’t solve.  The Myriad’s music is all about atmosphere and impact.  Since their first album, Don’t Trust a Ladder, they layer sound in such a way that listeners swim in the music.  During their set, frontman Jeremy Edwardson’s vocals hovered above the mix, just shy of completely intelligible but eloquent all the same. His voice wavered to positive effect, adding a human touch to the band’s otherworldly sound.  It’s intense and expansive, with a dark thread that keeps it from sounding like neo-psychedelia. You couldn’t hear the storm outside for the music, but if any of the bands channeled its fury and the ominous feeling the shore would soon disappear under the rising waters, The Myriad did.

After a brief break, the tables started to thin out.  It wasn’t because curfew was up: it was because the home-team was about to come up to bat.  The Dupree family was about to take the stage, and as is tradition, the dance floor filled.  Now, you can dance to some Eisley songs, but Beatle Bob would do a better job busting a move than, say, Usher, to their typical track.  They opened their strong set with "Many Funerals," the opening track on their second full-length album Combinations, effectively resolving my question of how they would transition from The Myriad’s more foreboding vibe.  Instead of redecorating they decided to pummel the room with energy.  As ethereal as twin leads Stacy and Sherri Dupree are, as musicians they’re far craftier. "Marvelous Things," my introduction to the band, was played in the first quarter of the set, a surprise since it’s one of their most well-known songs. The momentum the band built carried them through moods and melodies of varying kinds.  The set included older songs like "Telescope Eyes," "I Wasn’t Prepared," "Golly Sandra," "One Day I Slowly Floated Away," "Mr. Pine," and fan favorite "Sun Feet."  The bulk of the set pulled from their August 2007 LP Combinations to the delight of the fans, who began to move with more enthusiasm. This was noted by Sherri, who explained that their fans "Usually just sit there and stare."  The banter between the sisters was minimal at the show’s onset, mainly pixie-ish thank yous immediately following songs. As the night wore on, they got more comfortable,  and the crowd was treated to deadpan commentary worthy of Arrested Development.  Ultimately they gave a stellar performance, and the humor was a nice counter to their chilling harmonies over their excellent body of work. It brings to mind the Beatles, the Talking Heads, Cranberries, and Fleetwood Mac, but more than anything else it is a sound all their own.  On the standout track "I Could Be There For You," they thanked the crowd and took their leave. For an encore, they were nice enough to grace the faithful with another song and closed with Stacy accompanying Sherri on Combinations’ quasi-lullaby, "If You’re Wondering."  With that the crowd dispersed or hit the merchandise booths. The storm had passed with all parties feeling gratified and renewed by the night’s experience.  For those who wished they were there, maybe next time. ‘Till then all the bands have audio on myspace, purevolume and itunes.  Look ‘em up if you like. |Willie Smith Jr.

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