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Wednesday, October 21

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« Four Star, meet Lone Star Deep Cuts of Southern Soul »

Concert Thu Feb 15 2007

Concert Review: Midlake, St. Vincent @ Schubas, 2/14

On this Valentine's Day, Texas was, indeed, the reason. A double shot of sold out Texas-based pop graced the wooden stage at Schubas last night . Opener Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, who expects a full-length out on Beggar's Banquet this spring, exhibited the true anachronism of the phrase "one-man band." Taking her mighty Epiphone in hand and, coupled with a few stints at the keys and an ingenius use of an amp pickup run through a bass equilizer to serve as a "stomp" kick drum, Clark asserted the power of the rock side of feminine subjectivity all by herself. Taking cue from Tori Amos in subject matter and Ani DiFranco in guitar attack made Clark's set the perfect anti-Valentine atmosphere as its subject matter covered mulitple songs about murder and relationship trouble. The loud to soft dynamics of "Now, Now" were perhaps the most abrasive, showcasing Clark's guitar playing as she scattered notes all across the fretboard and used a second, muted mic for call and response that conjured up aural memories of AM static or old phonograph magic. Subdued, tongue-in-cheek "Marry Me John" followed traditional piano-based pop a la Carole King but still kept its jilted approach as the song's narrator implored the matrimonially hesitant John to follow Holy couple Mary and Jospeh's example but "without the kid." Closer "Paris is Burning" served as a stirring anti-war anthem and ended the set on a contemplative note and revealed Clark's kinship with Joanna Newsom in vocal range.

After a brief interval, Denton TX's finest quietly took the gear-strewn stage armed only with their trusty beards and the panther mask featured so prominetly in the artwork from last year's genius LP The Trials of Van Occupanther.

Neither failed to disappoint. With perfectly timed-to-the-music film clips projected behind them, made up of their own home videos as well as 19th-century period pieces, Midlake bathed the crowd with the warm, somber sounds of their five-part harmonies and '70s AM radio pop exploits. Fan favorite "Roscoe" appeared second in the set list and drove home its nostalgic message via black and white child labor footage and cogent band cohesion. While lead singer Tim Smith's vocals struggled a bit on the song, a few songs later he revealed he, and most of the band, were getting over an illness. This became clear as the set progressed and Smith's face took on a fever-breaking intensity that never let up. The songmanship, however, was never affected and, despite the sickness, the band's musical chops shone. Both "Bandits" and "Young Bride" lived up to their recorded origins, and Bamnan and Slivercork's "Balloon Maker" served as a refreshing change of pace from the Van Occupanther dominated set. One new song made an appearance also, giving Smith and main keyboardist Eric Nichelson a chance to bang out a piano duet while bassist Paul Alexander and drummer McKenzie Smith washed over them with low-end groove. A dynamic version of "Head Home" finished the regular set and, despite the sickness, they graciously gave the applauding crowd two more, ending with an impassioned "Branches" the lyrics to which, no doubt, rang more true last night for Smith than ever before: "It's hard for me, but I'm trying." Luckily for those who were there, Midlake succeeded as well.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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