Saturday, August 10, 2013

Soft Metals, Psychic Rites and EVILS @ Neurolux (7/30/13)

I'd never seen any of the three acts on this bill before.  That, of course, gave me all the reason I needed to check this show out.  It helped too that the bill featured Psychic Rites, a band that I'd missed at Treefort, and Soft Metals, a Los Angeles-based group that makes my kind of electronic music (i.e. subdued, moody, sexy).

I counted about forty people when I got to Neurolux.  When Soft Metals played, I counted about the same number inside.  Pretty good turnout for a Tuesday.

EVILS, the new project of First Borns' Christopher Smith and Erik Butterworth, opened the show.  With their driving basslines, straight-ahead beat tracks and snarling guitar, they sounded closer to the Sisters of Mercy than to Joy Division (though a couple of slower numbers made me think of "The Eternal" and "Day of the Lords").  This didn't bother me--I've got a soft spot for Floodland and Vision Thing.  But while the music was enjoyable, it somehow felt a little static.  Maybe they'd do well to beef up the bottom end of their sound.  Or maybe they just need to play a few more gigs.

Psychic Rites played next.  Stasis wasn't this group's problem.  Their bouncy, throbbing beats pushed their chiming guitar and layers of synth hooks forward.  Meanwhile, their lead singer spent a good deal of time hopping around the stage.  The only rub was the caterwauling vocals.  While they did have a certain rough charm, they also seemed to throw the music off slightly.  Then again, I felt the same way about Annex Madly at first.  Besides, the lyrics that I caught had a nice off-kilter humor to them.

Soft Metals' set felt a little off.  Not that the music wasn't good; the chant-like tunes, Ian Hicks' bubbling beats and Patricia Hall's cool, siren's-call vocals were plenty enticing.  The swirls and colored shapes on the screen behind the band augmented the music's hypnotic quality.  But in spite of some bobbing and swaying, the crowd's reaction seemed too subdued.  Maybe the music would've worked better at, say, China Blue during Treefort.  Still, the duo received some good cheers and whistles at the end of the set.

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