What’s Left: 301 Days. 76 Bands.
Band #24: Brett Harris
When/Where: October 31st, Slim’s Downtown Distillery, Raleigh, NC
Expectations: I have known Brett Harris for a few years now. We have played many shows together, and he has even backed me in Luego, both live and in studio. He is an adept songster, and has pipes one can only wish for. His April 2010 high fidelity release, Man of Few Words, has garnered critical online acclaim in Paste Magazine among other publications, and rightfully so. Every song on the album is classic pop full of classic hooks. I haven’t seen Harris in months, so I look forward to see his progress.
Concert: Brett Harris opened MarkXtravaganza: a 5-band birthday party for local bassist/bartender Mark Connor and all bands he plays in. Those bands included Brett Harris, Luego, The Spring Collection, The Tomahawks, and Bright Young Things. A small group of friends and fans gathered to witness the debauchery. The show commenced with Brett leading his 5-piece band through 8 tunes, heavy on Man of Few Words material. The set pulsated with tight arrangemebts, perfect pitch singing, and lip-curling guitar solos played by self-assured, bearded dudes more interested in the 60s than today.
Keyboardist Charles “The Cleav” Cleaver, pulling triple duty that night, played around the songs with his piano fills—he didn’t get in the way of the songs, he only enhanced them. Guitarist Cameron Lee – pulling quadruple duty that night – was fresh, skilled, and tasty, even skronky. His playing style ranged from Nashville country bumpkin to poppy John Mayer to swaggering Ronnie Wood.
The best part of the set came on the second to last song, when the band unleashed a spirited cover of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.” While you may not recognize the name of the song by it’s title, I guarantee you’ve heard this song. Where Brett Harris’s set was conventional, predictable and straightforward, “Werewolves” was loose, fun and off-kilter, drawing the biggest crowd response. Brett finished the set with a soulful new take on one of his older songs. He left the stage humbly and politely, professionally and indifferently. He didn’t need to say anything more. His syrupy croon did the talking. But this gig wasn’t about proving anything, it was really just a long party.
Brett Harris lies atop a growing crop of finely tuned, incestuous, hook-laden bands taking over the local music scene. Even if his talents may go unrecognized, he carries with him a quiet determination to succeed. If he continues writing songs like his first album, he will soon be rewarded for his efforts.
Concert Afterglow: After seeing all 5 sets, Brett’s set was in fact the best, tightest, most exciting, despite its conventionalism. Who needs shock value when you have hooks like this?
Recommendation: In the least, you must check out Brett’s radio-ready debut full-lenth album in Man of Few Words. You can download it for zero dollars plus your email address at http://brettharris.bandcamp.com.
Song: “I Found Out” – Brett Harris
What’s Left: 316 Days. 80 Bands.
Band #20: Beach House
When/Where: October 17th, Raleigh Amphitheatre, Raleigh, NC
Expectations: Tonight’s show will be my 2nd time seeing Beach House. Stoked for some soaring dream pop.
Concert: I arrived on time at 7:33, and the show had already begun—I walked in halfway through their recent, undeniable hit, “Walk in the Park.” Lead singer Victoria Legrand’s seductive vocals hit me in the face, reminiscent of Nico. The lead guitar, drenched in reverb, echoed brilliantly about the amphitheatre. The band’s stage setup was beautiful and dark; they performed in front of an interactive backdrop of cascading stars on black skies, lighting up in conjunction with the swells in the music.
Beach House sounded huge. Most notably, the band had added a fourth member onstage (previously there were three), alternating between bass, keyboards and singing backup. As a result, the harmonies were thicker, the ambience was heavier, more convincing, and the band rocked harder. Guitarist Alex Scally, who usually sits down throughout the show to play bass pedals with his feet, stood up for the first few songs while the new sideman played the bass. Victoria Legrand was sexy and French, and she tossed her hair wildly as she pounded on her organ.
The show was fantastic. Not much banter, not any mistakes. Not much variety. They have a drone-y, haunting sound. Their drummer gave the music some legs, which let the crowd dance in place. As Beach House evolves, gaining popularity everywhere, they employ the best tactic in pop music: always leave the audience wanting more.
Concert Afterglow: The show felt too short, and about a quarter of the crowd definitely thought that Beach House should have been headlining. As their live show widens in scope, their imaginations reach further. I look forward to their next album, and their next tour.
Recommendation: If you like sexy lead singers, and drone-y, haunting songs, look no further than Beach House. Their live show is only getting better, so the sooner you catch them, the less of an impact it will have on your pocketbook.
Incase you missed the excitement that I was sharing via Sunset in the Rearview’s Facebook Page and Twitter account, I would like to announce on the blog that Sunset in the Rearview has gained an additional writer for the 100Bands Feature! (For a reminder of what 100Bands is, click here to read the full write-up.)
Join me in welcoming PATRICK PHELAN to the team! What excites me most about this is that Patrick is known for his writing. Unlike Jessica and me, though, who are both known for blog writing, Patrick is known for being a songwriter. He is the lead singer of a North Carolina bluesy-folk band called Luego, which has gained a lot of well-deserved attention on Sunset in the Rearview. I’m thrilled to be adding an artist to the list of writers – it should be fun to read live reviews from the perspective of a musician himself.
For more information on Luego or Patrick, see the following links: