Friday, September 15, 2006

Mars Hill

Funny that I don't think to really write about a band until they decide to move away to Montreal, I guess for the last couple of years they've just kind of been in the background, playing once a week or so in the Summers.

They've developed a pretty strong following here, including a lot of people whom you don't see at a lot of other shows.

They certainly have a pretty unique sound, musically they have the DNA of a semi-jam band, but with a vocalist doing fairly involved spoken-word bits. The musicianship over the last couple of years has definitely improved, and I've noticed them experimenting a lot more lately. Last night, for example, seemed to be Pink Floyd night, with a lot of little guitar and keyboard phrases, mostly from The Wall, snuck in during the bridges and made to fit in with the structure of the song pretty well, certainly as well as JSB's hamfisted crowbarring of other melodies into their songs. They sort of gave the game away when the guitar player just did the whole first bit of the solo to Every Brick in the Wall pt. 2, but until then it was pretty subtle and actually quite the treat to listen for the little hints and changes of tone.

They put on a pretty good live show, but I think their recorded stuff sounds a lot better. (Here's their MySpace page with a few songs: Link.) Unfortunately they have a trumpet player, of all things, (if you guessed she's dating one of the other members, go get yourself a cookie.) and that tends to overwhelm the other parts of the band in a live setting. But on their CD it's balanced quite well with the rest of the instruments and I think is more how they intended it to sound.

The vocals are decent, it's pretty impressive to see the vocalist, Devin, do his thing for a couple of hours and usually, but not always, remember all the words to the fairly lengthy lyrics. However, I am definitely the type to not listen to a songs lyrics or really pay attention to them as anything more than another instrument. The vocal delivery is quite laid-back, sort of the equivalent to a lot of alternative rock singers who had a rather blasé posture and deliberately moderated energy. Definitely more of a spoken-word attitude than a crowd-rousing M.C., but it let the instrumental parts gain more prominence in leading the crowd, which seemed to work pretty well.

Last night will probably be the last time I'll see them before they leave, though they're doing a big goodbye gig in Emerald or some such place. It'll be interesting to hear how they fare in Montreal.

By al - 6:56 AM |

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