Live Review: Oryx and Crake, Venice Is Sinking, Book of Colors, August 28, 2010, The Earl, Atlanta
by: Chuck Norton
August 28, 2010, marked official CD release for the up-and-coming Atlanta-based band Oryx and Crake. With Athens-based bands Book of Colors and Venice Is Sinking also on the bill, they sold out one of Atlanta’s most frequented rock venues, The Earl.
The opening band, Book of Colors, was raw in both sound and performance. Featuring two violins, a cello and a drummer in addition to the band’s lead-singer and guitar player, they fit the mold of the emerging generation of bands whose formation seems most likely to have occurred in a college music class.
Their performance was reserved – excluding one rousing song in which one of the violinists switched to a clarinet. Before what would have been the last song of their set, an issue with the lead-singer’s guitar prompted him to leave the stage for nearly 10 minutes. His bandmates attempted to cover for his absence with an impromptu instrumental interlude. But once that was completed, they were left to wait, drink water and awkwardly attempt to fill the void. A frontman never leaves his band in a lurch like that, even if he did pop a string.
The band, who is in the process of recording their first album, does show promise. But they need to work on making their sound more robust in order to capture and captivate the audience.
Following the opener was Venice Is Sinking. The band, who released their third album earlier this Summer, put on a stellar performance – one worthy of a headlining slot. Their polished performance was in stark contrast to Book of Colors, showing the results of years spend touring.
Playing songs of their past albums, and their most recent, the six-piece band was on-point after working through some initial issues with the vocals not being turned up enough. One of the highlights of their performance was “Tugboat” which perfectly captures their Southern Dream-Pop sound.
Hampered by a typically talkative and unengaged crowd, the intricacies of their performance seemed lost of many in the venue. Despite this distraction, Venice Is Sinking proved why they are certainly one of the most undervalued bands in the region and worthy of more national/international notoriety.
The much-hearalded headliners, Oryx and Crake, took the stage at 11:45PM to what was, initially, a more focused and engaged audience. Darlings of the Atlanta blog-o-sphere, the band spend the preceding week concluding their marketing push, which included a live performance on one of the Atlanta morning TV shows, a write-up in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and numerous interviews and features with Atlanta’s burgeoning on-line music media.
The nine-piece band took the stage to a rousing ovation by the crowd, one that surely didn’t help salve the nerves of a band who doesn’t have a tremendous amount of performances under their belt. Dealing with some of the same sound issues that hampered Venice Is Sinking, it took Oryx + Crake a several songs to really find their groove – and maybe shake off some of the nerves such a milestone event brought with it.
By the time the band launched into the Portishead-esque “Fun Funeral” and equally strong “Bed Death” they showed the potential that has so many people excited about the future of this band. Teeming with talented musicians, the band has a tremendous talent base with which to build.
Overall their performance was mildly inconstant, peaking with “Bed Death” near the end of their set. With no-less-than five members lending vocals, a cellist, violinist, three-to-four guitar players, a keyboardist and traditional and electronic percussionists, at their best, they can create a wall of sound that can enrapture an audience. Likewise, when the band is slightly out of synch, it’s noticeable.
The band was not shown the favors one would expect from a home-town crowd. By the time the band started their third song, the chatty crowd had reverted back to its poor behavior. This had to have been a distraction given the number decrescendos in the performance.
As has been noted by this site, and many others, Oryx and Crake has been able to pull off a rarity in their debut album by creating a sound that is wholly unique. Once they are able to match their live performance with their recorded one, the sky will be the limit for the band.
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