Bella Morte, Torso, the Siren Project Thursday, July 17, 2008 Oriental Theater Better Than: The stuff that most of the Goths seem to be into these days.
I’m not sure if they’ve upgraded the sound system or just have better sound guys or what, but last night, the Oriental sounded better than I ever remember before. The presumed upgrade was immediately evident when the Siren Project took the stage and kicked off its set with one of its newer, more ambient songs. Malgorzata’s sultry vocals were a little more restrained than usual. She’s always had an incredibly powerful, versatile voice with a unique character, but for this show it seemed as though she was pacing herself like someone genuinely confident of her abilities, which revealed a greater level of maturity on her part as an artist.
Playing in front of odd, artsy projections of streaming shapes, patterns, faces, structures, flowers falling and colors, the outfit rolled through its classics, putting new spins to songs like “Shelter,” “Justify,” “The Wheel” and “I Condemn,” that seemed to deepen the tones and reel in loose edges of sound. The second to last song was performed by Malgorzata entirely in Polish, but like any great piece of music, you didn’t have to understand what she was saying in order to enjoy it. As she sang, I imagined looking out from a lighthouse across a Baltic harbor as the sun was breaking through the fog and standing on that mental ledge when you’re leaving an old life behind, casting aside your doubts and trepidations in order to move into the new. Overall, it wasn’t Siren Project’s most bombastic and melodramatic show but it was among its finest.
Torso followed, and immediately struck me as Rammstein without the same degree of over-the-top theatrics. A little on the metal side, the outfit performed with an admirable enthusiasm and closed with the best song of their set, “Eternal.”
Bella Morte closed the night out with a set that sounded, for all the world to me, like a modern emo band -- more AFI, though, than Fall Out Boy. Like the former, this Charlottesville, Virginia-based band has the good taste to have borrowed from the poppier moments of the Misfits, and that makes all the difference. I won’t lie and say I was into the act’s music too much, because that style of pop punk mixed with goth seems pretty contrived, but the members did use a keytar to execute the more industrial sounds of the band’s sonic oeuvre, and that made even the cheesiest of songs a little more interesting. Most of the act’s set was dedicated to material from Bleed the Grey Sky Black, including “Ghost Land,” “Torn,” “On the Edge,” and “Haunted,” as well as “The Devil’s Eyes” from the Songs for the Dead EP.
Without a doubt, these guys played their hearts out and seemed to perform with an exuberance and good will that doesn’t often get associated with the type of music they’re aiming to make. And they had a sense of humor about the evening, suggesting we tell everyone that the show sold out at $75 a head and that AC/DC had opened. They also remembered their previous visits to Denver in detail, which says a lot about a band’s integrity. The played a single song encore with “Christina.”
Not my thing but I’d see these guys again on the basis of their fun live show.
-- Tom Murphy
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: To me “alternative” was more than just grunge, and “underground” is much more than indie rock, experimental music and Americana. Random Detail: Vampire Freaks were tossing stickers around the room during Bella Morte’s set. By the Way: Bella Morte will return in October with Gorgeous Frankenstein, the latest project from Doyle of the Misfits, and to promote its new record, Beautiful Death.
This is the eleventh in a series of thirty consecutive shows that Tom Murphy is planning on attending. His whole idea is to prove that there's cool stuff going on any night of the week in Denver, if you bother to make any effort whatsoever to find it. He suggested naming this series, "This Band Could Be Your Life," a fitting designation to be sure. Since there's already a similarly titled book, however, we opted to file these entries under Last Night's Show -- you know, to avoid being sued an all. (Sorry, Tom.)