I arrived shortly before Slings & Arrows took to the stage. I confess to knowing little about the band prior to the show and I now confess to not being particularly interested in learning more about them after the show. Technically speaking the band was perfectly able… dare I say tight? My issue was that the performance as a whole was rather uninspiring. The little emotion or enthusiasm that could be found seemed somewhat unnatural or even forced. In the bands defense, the audience did not give them much to work with during their set. They seemed a little unsure at times, and almost seemed to be looking for a friendly face or some recognition to get connected to the event.
Office strolled on to the stage rather inconspicuously. I am pretty sure it was an interview, that transpired on this site a few months ago, that braces me for a band that may take themselves a bit too seriously. This thought quickly recedes every time I see them play. Their music is free of any pretension and quite simply strives to make one want to move, and it makes a damn good case. Early into their set it became clear that this was going to be their show. It may have been an oversight that Office did not headline. If for no other reason because they were the main draw, a detail made all the more clear as the majority of the crowd began to filter out at the completion of their set. Their music, the progeny of 80’s new wave and various elements of today’s better indie rock, doesn’t necessarily contain any new secrets, but perhaps I need to look deeper. In contrast to the earlier performance their show is pure confidence, one that has already distanced itself from the “local band” label. I haven’t quite been able to pinpoint the appeal of this band for me personally. It may be the fervor in which they present their music. It may be the ability of this self-contained party to get a crowd moving, a feat which gains more merit with every dull indie rock show I encounter. There are a lot of reasons to be taken in by this band but the easiest, and most obvious, may be that their music is just fucking fun.
Airiel closed out the night to a noticeably smaller audience. I can hardly blame the crowd though, because I was ready to party after Office as well. Airiel plays a style of music that, when in the proper frame of mind or proper setting, I thoroughly enjoy. The music relies heavily on wistful instrumentation and droning vocals, which do more to blend in with the music than rise above it. It is easy to get lost within the framework of the music. Unfortunately something just didn’t connect with me during their live show. Their performance was not lacking in anyway, in fact they were quite good, but I think Office proved to be a tough act to follow. The music Airiel plays does not lend itself to winning over a crowd that just spent the last hour dancing. It is difficult to go from an engaging performance to one more detached without losing a little something along the way.