Early Day Miners | 02.08.08

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Photo: Fitz Hartwig 

Guitarist John Dawson spasmed as he weaved a dialogue of reverb-laden chords while front man Dan Burton supported his patiently poetic voice with organ throbs.

 

w/ Grace Basement, Gentleman Auction House and Victoria

The Bluebird, St. Louis

Last Friday night got off to a slow start as I found myself apathetically waiting around in the Rec-room-esque basement that is our newest addition to the St. Louis music scene, The Bluebird. It was the first time I'd been there, and first impressions were not on its side. Located in a practically unmarked bottom floor of a nondescript brick building on Olive, The Bluebird proved difficult to find. The location doesn't seem like a local Mecca for indie-rockers. AG Edwards and other Midwestern business tycoons toweringly surround the infant venue, but looks can be deceiving.

Having shown up masochistically early (as I always do for some reason), I watched the line-up of song-slingers wander in and unpack their gear. On the bill were local darlings Gentleman Auction House, and Indiana natives Early Day Miners.

As the night unfurled, local openers Grace Basement played a lukewarm brand of bar rock with shades of Built to Spill and Band of Horses. In the last minute of their set (quite literally), front man Kevin Buckley whipped out small, gritty violin. It's darkly stained wood, and elegant f-holes starkly contrasted with the otherwise electronic instruments. As his band mates kept the song moving, Buckley bedazzled me with an amazing fiddle solo to end their set. The sheer emotion he put into each searing note made me wish he had incorporated the four-stringer earlier and more often.

Early Day Miners opened with the newly-written "So Slow." This upbeat, quietly beautiful tune had EDM firing on all cylinders. Guitarist John Dawson spasmed as he weaved a dialogue of reverb-laden chords while front man Dan Burton supported his patiently poetic voice with organ throbs. The song's refrain, "Summertime, goes by, so slow," seems a bit dreary on the surface, but in context with the joyfully lush music, it comes to mean something completely to the contrary. It's indeed a celebration. The warm organ drones, and quick snare-taps surrounded me as I reminisced about warmer weather, and youthful exuberance. The song served as a perfect opener and as an excellent encapsulation of EDM and what they're about. "So Slow" was featured during a recent stint at the digital hotel for up-and-coming twang-rock outfits, Daytrotter. EDM recorded four songs at the end of last month for the site.

Somewhere between when Grace Basement finished and EDM started, The Bluebird's naked cement floor became crowded with the feet of an anxious crowd, mostly drawn for the local one-two punch of Gentleman Auction House and Victoria, who were headlining. Although EDM seemed like a perfect fit within the ranks of those local favorites, I was consistently annoyed by incessant chattering throughout the set. It still leaves me puzzled. GAH and EDM are fruit from the same tree; they are both happily upbeat, both catchy, and both very good at what they do. Fortunately, there was a large minority of eager EDM onlookers in the crowd who clamored for more at the end of the set.

As Dawson packed up, Burton and bassist Jonathan Richardson looked questioningly at each other. In the end, the supportive faction of the crowd was not left unsatisfied, as EDM convinced the sound man and each other to play one more. The band looked pleased and excited, as they eagerly concluded their set with "Longwall," a song that Burton introduced as, "one of the first songs we wrote,"-an almost shy affirmation of the lengths they've come since their debut album Placer Found in 2000. Their set climaxed with this aptly engaging instrumental piece. It began with a driving drum beat emanating from powerhouse Marty Sprowles, and concluded with Dawson passionately playing some of the night's most spirited, and most interesting riffs.

Last Friday signaled the beginning of a twelve date tour for EDM, which includes dates throughout the East and South. Through meticulous combinations of ethereal, yet groovy sounds, Early Day Miners proves to be a blissfully polite treasure. For anyone seeking fun, energetic indie-rock, EDM is hard to beat. | Glen Elkins

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