Deli Presents: Il Abanico, Tan Vampires, Pack of Morleys, Melt -- Concert Review 7/14/2011
by George Dow, Photos by Alyssa Wayrynen
It was a perfect night for the first in a series of artist showcases that The Deli Magazine is hosting at P.A.’s Lounge in Somerville this summer. Slightly overcast skies, temperatures in the mid-seventies, locals and hipsters manning the stoops and strolling the sidewalks of Union Square. It was quintessential summer in the city.
Melt started the night off with a bang. By far the heaviest band of the night, they brought their hard-edged, goth-tinged assault to the early arrivals at P.A.’s Lounge. They barreled through a full set which raised the bar for the rest of the bands on the bill.
Lead vocalist Lindsey Kyte showed a vocal range born to meet any occasion, easily shifting from sultry to choral to shouty depending on the mood of the song. Her range was amazing, enabling to her hit every note—low, high and everywhere in between.
The mood turned darker when multi-instrumentalist, Mel Fitzhugh set down her bass and picked up the violin. The addition of violin brought out the gothic side of Melt, as well as adding an Eastern European gypsy feel to the set. Throughout the set Melt moved seamlessly from violin to bass, to trumpet and back again.
To sum up Melt’s sound is no simple task. To compare them to Evanesence is fair, given their dark, hard edge and beautiful vocals, but they are much more than a knock-off of a B-level nü-metal band. To compare them to a more palatable version of System of a Down is a stretch because they are certainly not a hardcore metal band. Nonetheless, combine both those touchstones and add a talent for indie-pop hooks and you’ll have something that resembles Melt.
Though their set was dominated by their originals, Melt are also happy to rip it up, interspersing covers into their set. Their full-on rock version of Portishead’s “Glory Box” was an inspired take on the trip-hop original. Late in the set they played a rollicking version of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock-n-Roll” kicked up a notch when Mel replaced the classic Jimmy Page guitar solo with her violin instead of guitar.
A fantastic start to the night.
Up second was Jamaica Plain’s Pack of Morleys.
The Morley’s subscribe to the loud-quiet-loud camp of indie-rock. When in quiet mode they stick to an acoustic-based sound that verges on Americana. When they switch on the loud they bring a healthy dose of art-noise rock to their set.
The surprise of the night were the Tan Vampires.
Lead singer, Jake Mehrmann looks like Scream-era David Arquette, complete with jet black moustache. Contrary to his look, he sounds like a cross between Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, James Blake and that guy from Mumford and Sons. They also brought the only beard-core of the night. With keyboardist Mike Effenberger and drummer Jim Rudolph sporting immaculate, chest-length mountain-man beards.
But enough of the fashion commentary—Tan Vampires killed their set. Their vintage keyboards and electronic loops lent a jam-band quality to noisy rock sound. Most of the guys in the band kept very serious, no nonsense game faces on throughout the set but they managed to introduce a measure of fun as they stretched some of their tunes out beyond their three minute origins.
The standout was their closing song which degenerated into a mess of improvisation and electronic noise. As far as I was concerned they could have continued that meltdown for a couple more hours.
When headliners, Il Abanico took the stage near midnight P.A.’s Lounge was filling up. Some arriving late specifically to see the band, others spilling in randomly from the street in search of one final drink before last call. Regardless of their reason for watching the entire house was immediately enthralled with Il Abanico.
No one would have ever guessed that this was their third set of the day, following earlier appearances in Kendall Square and at the ICA. This Boston-based band has a truly worldly approach. Band leaders Juliana and Nicolas are both from Columbia and met while attending Berklee. They fill out their touring band with a mini-United Nations hailing from Japan, Peru and Venezuela.
Juliana’s Björk-like vocals are supported by instrumentation that at once gives nods to Stereolab, bossa nova and traditional indie-rock. Having played together for little more than 9 months, Il Abanico are a testament to the talents of their individual players. They sound as though they’ve been playing together for many years. Watching the bare-footed Juliana grip the carpeted stage with her toes as she sang left me feeling as though she were literally using it as an instrument.
I was struck that in a city with a music scene comprised of thousands of bands, Il Abanico are one to watch—destined for national and international exposure.
Watch for details on the next two shows in “The Deli Presents…” series at P.A.’s Lounge one August 10th and 24th.