The Photo Atlas, The Epilogues, Set Forth Friday, May 23, 2008 Walnut Room Better Than: Staying at home and listening to Kiss FM.
I’m not going to lie -- I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars. Regardless of my love for these two things, they have something in common that always struck me as being odd – the bands that they have on the shows seem to play in these hip little places with chairs and lighting and everyone is just sitting around chatting while some clean and hip band rocks/pours their heart’s out on stage. “Rock shows aren’t like that,” I would tell myself.
Apparently I was wrong. At first I was excited to walk into the Walnut Room, looking around, I told myself, “I’m in an episode of Veronica Mars!” But the strange crowd, which was a 3:1 ratio of women over men, eventually became a little overwhelming and surprisingly LoDo, with short skirts and high heels that pounded the floor in 4/4 time.
The three bands' sets were divided up by a spokesperson introducing the bands, one of those details that struck me as being very not-rock and very television. Regardless, Set Forth hit the stage playing a remarkably tight set that seemed to take place in some other strange alternate universe, one where singers can sing and musicians can actually play. I mean, this band was studio tight, record tight, and as far as I could tell, the act didn’t even hiccup once… odd… so not-rock.
Suddenly, the tightness, the almost otherworldly sense that I’d walked onto the set of a television show changed with the Epilogues. The band was loose and even announced that it hadn’t played in a while (which became more and more obvious as the set went on). It’s not that the songs weren’t cohesive – but the lack of organization, the lack of a set list, the “forgetting” of how one of the songs went… well, even their fancy light show and synchronized stage antics couldn’t help them recover from too much time spent jabbering in-between songs. The Epilogues best moments were spent actually playing their songs and rocking as hard as they could – something that simply didn’t happen enough. This was closer to being rock, but still fell a bit short.
I blame the smoke machine.
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The Photo Atlas took the stage quicker than I’d expected. I’d wandered off to the bathroom and then grabbed a beer, when a high pitched yelp drug me back into the venue. The crowd was about as excited as it was going to get, which basically means that Set Forth’s mom’s and her friends were a little tipsy and dancing. The Photo Atlas seemed more concerned with whether the crowd was having fun (asking us all quite a few times if we were, indeed, having fun) then with if they were having fun. The Photo Atlas don’t make the type of music that you sit around and listen too (the guys should be filled with raw angsty energy), but the band, perhaps drained, maybe bored, just didn’t seem that into it, and the music couldn’t hold up without some energy.
The whole thing ended up being surprisingly not-rock. I’d hoped to at least see some broken bones or drunken antics.
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I’d never even heard of two of these bands. Random Detail: I overheard some girls talking about the singer from Set Forth, saying, “He looks so much like that Paul guy I slept with.” By the Way: Set Forth and The Epilogues both have finished recordings and are releasing EP’s this summer.