Paper Bird, the Autumn Film, Laura Goldhamer, Chuck Potashner & Rob Drabkin at the Oriental Theater
Following Goldhamer, the Autumn Film took over. Right away it was apparent that the drums were mixed far too loud and the piano too low. If there were ever a band that could be torpedoed by too much drums and not enough piano, this is it. Worse, singer Tifah al-Attas's vocals sounded muddy, dragging down the outfit's strongest asset, obscuring the strong material and highlighting the pedestrian nature of the rest. As a result of the poor mix, the performance was irritating and draining, and I was glad when it was over.
Finally, just before midnight, Paper Bird got going. I've been into this outfit since the first time I caught them (a year ago? More?) and this performance reinforced that. The influences they draw on are well outside my area of expertise and, for the most part, taste, yet they manage to synthesize them into something irresistible. All three women possess the kind of voices that could lure sailors into rocks and a natural, warm charisma and stage presence. The four men that provide the instrumental backing seem to instinctually provide the perfect accompaniment. They played a mix of material from their debut album, a few new songs and a cover or the Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love." The material is strong, the girls are gorgeous and the performance was excellent - plus, the stage patter was engaging. What's not to like?
Personal Bias: Very few of my favorite artists are female-fronted acts, but Paper Bird is creeping up into the top echelon.
Random Detail: What was up with the overuse of the fog machine? Do you miss the days when smoking indoors was legal that much?
By the Way: Regretfully, since I had to get up early for Thanksgiving reasons, I had to leave at 1 a.m., missing the end of Paper Bird's set. Barring a complete meltdown or spontaneous combustion, I believe my opinion would be unchanged had I stayed.
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