I started my tour of South Broadway relatively late in the evening, heading south from the 404 Lounge at around 9:45 p.m. Turns out I still had plenty of time to catch a wide variety of acts in a wealth of forums, from cramped bars to open air performances on the sidewalk. The first act I caught was Natural Selection at the Import Warehouse, a band I'd last seen at the Bluebird in 2009 as a trio. Saturday's performance saw a stripped down version of the band, with frontman Sam Glover offering solo vocals over a prerecorded menu of beats.
The effect was a bit disappointing, especially comparing Glover's tired, slight sound to the lush effects and varied sounds I've heard the band offer in previous performances. The beats lacked dynamism, and Glover couldn't quite handle the weight of being the sole performer on stage.
From the dim, crowded confines of the Import Warehouse, I made my way south at about 10 p.m., vaguely aimed toward the Skylark but willing to stop for any sounds that seemed interesting. I didn't have to veer from the sidewalk to find my next musical destination; Oklahoma City-based the Non offered choppy minor guitar chords, frenetic pentatonic scale runs and driving beats from spot in front of the Burnzwell Clinic.
The lack of a formal venue didn't phase the quartet, who offered an energetic brand of instrumental, theory-based rock for more than an hour. The band balanced cerebral echoes of Rush and King Crimson with driving, straightforward rhythms. It was enough to draw a consistent crowd for more than an hour - in passing the spot several times, it was necessary to wade through a pretty dense group of onlookers.
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The crowds got thicker as the night wore on. Arriving at the Skylark for the tail end of Pink Hawks' set, I jostled through the crowd to find a spot at the front of the room. The effort was worth it - Pink Hawks' set was easily one of the most dynamic and infectious of the night. The ten-member band offered a fusion of Latin cadences, experimental contours and tribal song structures. The epic performance of "Separate the Corporation and State" spanned at least ten minutes, with the group drawing on dizzying percussion, eerie violin solos, pedal steel whines and honking melodies from a baritone saxophone.
Pink Hawk's visceral impact was still with me as I headed back north, stopping in at the 3 Kings tavern for Git Some's set. It's been more than a year since I've caught the band in a live setting, and they've definitely evolved. Vocalist Lucius Fairchild has become more adept at fusing vocal power and soul - over the band's driving, thrash-informed rhythms, Fairchild mixed screams, raw power and subtlety. It was enough to get the entire crowd at the back of the 3 Kings moving with the frenetic beats and driving bass lines.
To end out the night, I headed back to the 404 Lounge, eager to catch Achille Lauro's set. I'd been listening to Lauro's 2008 release Indiscretions all day, and I'd been especially looking forward to ending with their live performance, and it proved to be an ideal ending for the night.
In many ways, it felt like a follow-up to the band's excellent showing at our own Westword Music Showcase last month. The band's energy level was high for songs like "Friend's War" and "Unicorns and Consent," and Matt Close didn't disappoint in his emotive and insistent vocals. Combined with Luke Mossman's creatively phrased chords, the effect made for an ideal end to the night.