Achille Lauro Benefit Show with Hello Kavita, Vitamins and Achille Lauro December 21, 2007 The hi-dive Better than: A voyage on the real Achille Lauro
It took a benefit show for one of Denver’s most intriguing acts to break my mid-winter lethargy. I haven’t made it to many shows lately, due largely to the interminable holiday death march I’ve been on, compounded by my hatred of exposing my tender, scrawny frame to the cold. But to help out Matt Close -- singer for Achille Lauro, that aforementioned intriguing act – and, in the process, see that band alongside Hello Kavita – another of Denver’s top-talent groups – I found the strength to get out of the house.
Hello Kavita started with a soft, subdued acoustic number without drums – largely due to the fact the drummer was nowhere to be found. After locating the errant percussionist, the group kicked off the set properly. That set was classic pop tinged with a bit of folk and country that reminded me of some of the best bits of Wilco and Matthew Sweet blended together and injected with its own unique edge. Singer Corey Teruya puts a gift of a voice – sweet and just a little husky – to skillful use. Ian Short’s stellar violin work and the rest of the band’s strong playing showed off some really sharp songs. A bit of bad sound and a drummer that seemed slightly out of synch most of the night weren’t enough to tarnish the set. Hello Kavita showed again why it’s one of Denver’s most promising acts of the moment.
I didn’t know much about Vitamins, so I wasn’t expecting much. That made their appealing, fuzzed-out poppy rock a pleasant surprise. Big, charming riffs pushed along by a powerhouse drummer and some sweet start/stop dynamics kept the energy level high; a healthy dose of weird kept things interesting. Weird as in a foam muppet/fishhead masks, silly stage banter and a generally goofball demeanor among the band members. Taken with the occasional shots of experimentation – noisy, jammy breakdowns, or effects-pedal solos – Vitamins came off a bit like a slightly less-insane Deerfhoof. And I do mean that in a good way.
Achille Lauro finished things off, as befitting a benefit show for one of its members. Before an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience – I could see a number of folks mouthing the words or singing along – the crew members of Achille Lauro steered a confident course through their set. The music was angular, but emotional; challenging, yet inviting; warm and weird. Matt Close is an entertaining spectacle of a singer/guitarist with a goony charm, an impressive voice and elastic, emotive singing style. The rest of the band wasn’t lacking in personality either – there was a surplus of it throughout – making for an entertaining performance. And at the end of the relatively short set, Achille Lauro got the nicest compliment a band can receive – a bunch of fans shouting out for one more song. “We don’t know any more songs,” Close answered back. Certainly that will change, and I have to count myself among those who can’t wait. -- Cory Casciato
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: Hello Kavita is one of my favorite local acts. Random Detail: It really has been too long since I made it out – I got claustrophobic between sets and had to sneak outside for some fresh air and space. By the Way: Hello Kavita needs to release an album…