Le Divorce has always been good, but it seems the quartet has really honed its stage craft and sound in the past few months. Shrouded in a bank of fog, the band's visual presence matched the lush vibe of its songs. Performing "Analog" with confidence and the kind of power some people miss because it doesn't hit you over the head, Le Divorce showed how you can rock and still be playful without missing a beat. The deft mixture of clean and fuzzy tones and the diversity of the group's dynamic schemes made for a set that never seemed samey.
The four guys in I Know You, Rider brought in their own light kit composed of two tall, three-tiered shelves, the middle of which was occupied by a cheap, old television and the top and bottom mounted with single lights, the top shining out and the lower shining up into a reflective curve.
The music recalled Isis, but with a kind of Western flavor and notably more focused than that outfit's early work. While this could be a ridiculously and painfully loud project, these guys seem to have thought out what kind of impact they wanted to have and, thankfully, that was embodied in their songs.
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The melodic, bluesy underpinnings of each piece was like a theme that informed every song without things becoming pretty much the same. The thick fog that washed through at various points in the set gave the whole thing a kind of otherworldly feel that was grounded by the cavernous low end provided by the music.
It was late into the night when Mike Marchant and his Outer Space Party Unit hit the stage. The set began with a textured, ambient sound, like an old Verve song with a grittier tone. This evolved into "Collide, Ride On." The song was split into two, with a dreamier first half and a second half in which all the instruments seemed to collide in gigantic, shining, cadenced notes.
Probably too many people have spoken about Marchant's songwriting talent, but this set of rocking pop songs tinged with a bit of country and psychedelia was varied in tempo and mood in a way that made you feel like you went on some kind of journey with these guys. For "Mexico," Maria Kohler took stage and offered some nice three-part harmonies. At one point, Grant Israel joked about playing a song by SunnO))), but it was hard to tell if many people got the joke, even with the fog-haze that permeated the room. The set ended with a "medley," as Marchant remarked, of "Moonshining" and "In Heaven."
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I'm only biased in that I like music and particular artists without having some wannabe Lester Bangs ax to grind. Random Detail: One of the guys in I Know You, Rider looked to be playing a Fender Telecaster Thinline. A solid choice and an interesting one considering how heavy the band is. By the Way: No dummy stood on the ledge and fell off, or even nearly fell off, during anyone's set this time.