Review: George&Caplin CD release @ hi-dive

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Slide Show

The hi-dive show celebrating George & Caplin’s CD release was a rousing success -- for Nathan & Stephen, the openers. George & Caplin, however, was plagued with technical difficulties and ended up delivering a lackluster performance that did little to sell themselves or the new disc.

As folks filed into the hi-dive, CacheFlowe played a set of downtempo breakbeat remixes of George & Caplin songs. Joe Sampson then kicked things off with a capable blend of country-tinged folk rock. Recalling a smoother, more tuneful Dylan, Sampson worked through a batch of songs that were melancholy, angry and world weary all at once. While his set was intriguing, it was weighed down by sound issues, and a lack of familiarity with the material kept it from being incredible. Later in the set, the energy picked up when a few members of Nathan & Stephen joined him for a unpolished yet solid take on “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles.

Next up was Nathan & Stephen, who kept the momentum going, launching into its first tune with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old in a room full of new toys, pushing the crowd into a near frenzy. The players looked and sounded like they were having the time of their lives, which made the whole thing hard to resist. The act’s set was also marred by poor sound, but its high-octane feel-good rock suffered less for it than the other acts on the bill. Like a rock and roll Architecture in Helsinki -- exuberant, eccentric and funny -- Nathan & Stephen maintained a high level of intensity until the end, when it closed with “Happier,” a pretty, downtempo acoustic number. Overall, it was about as giddy and fun as a rock show can be

After Nathan & Stephen, George&Caplin were a letdown. Their group’s spacey, electronic experimental rock sound just never quite gelled right. Although Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens and Jason Fredrick Iselin seemed to be trying to set up an intimate mood, they were sequestered behind headphones and barely seemed aware they had an audience at all. And a variety of technical issues -- ranging from generally muddy sound to largely inaudible vocals to a show-stopping equipment failure -- killed any chance they might have had of setting a mood.

The pair seemed to lack any sort of enthusiasm as they stumbled through bored-sounding stage banter and came across as unprepared as they fumbled between songs, switching instruments. It felt more like a rehearsal more than a triumphant performance hyping a new release. Between Stevens and Iselin’s total lack of animation and the constant technical problems, I found it as difficult to connect with their music as they seemed to be having translating their material live. -- Cory Casciato

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