Doors for the show were at 9 and we made our way through the corridor linking the restaurant/bar with the concert room. I was pleased to see the “no smoking show” sign up thought I had looked at their website the day before and had seen they had added a snipe to the concert listing saying the same. The room was small. My wife and I found our places as my eye wandered the room, taking in the vibe. The Earl was a typical grungy rock club. A square room with a stage at one corner and a huge display of guitars. The soundboard was at the back and there was also a small bar. In spite of The Earl being a dive bar, the club was actually run on a professional schedule. Who says you can’t have it all? The small room had a capacity of just 106, as my wife had gotten a water at the bar and had seen the posting. By 9:30 the room had begun to feel comfortably filled [I’m guessing 70-80% capacity, though I’m terrible with a visual head count] as the opener, Black Swan Lane were ready to begin their show.
Boy howdy, they had a lot of guitars onstage! The band were unknown to me, but their early albums featured Mark Burgess, late of The Chameleons, as a member, so they caught my eye when researching the show. Burgess, had since relocated back to the UK for Chameleons Vox shows, but I was interested in seeing how they sounded. At some points in their show, the keyboardist [one could barely hear him on keys anyway] switched to 3rd guitar for a huge cloud of shoegazy noise that vocalist Jack Sobel [also on rhythm guitar] added his monochromatic vocals to.
While the dreaded bass fracking was not happening, there was still too much low end subsonic information. So much so, that the soles of our feet were vibrating with the floorboards resonating with the beat. Better than our vital organs shifting with every bass drum hit, but just barely. I was surprised when my wife left her place about halfway through the show. I saw her write something down in the back of the venue. Then she handed the slip of paper to the sound man. Brilliant! They then adjusted the levels so that the bass floor wasn’t so aggressive. I owed her one.
The show ran for an hour with most of the songs blending together in a mass. While far from the worst act I’d seen opening a show, there was a real lack of dynamics in the overall vibe. My wife went so far as to call it “unexciting” as she scribbled on a napkin and handed it to me for a concise concert review. At 10:30, Black Swan Lane said their goodnights and the band and their crew began breaking down the many stacks of amps filling the rear of the stage. The drum kit stayed behind as Midge Ure’s band [BC Taylor – drums, Tony Solis – bass/keys] were using it as well. As the clock crept up to 11, the main event was nigh.
Next: …The mellow years have long gone by