Live Review from Underground 97:
1. Shea Heights
3. I’ve Made Up My Mind
4. Still Don’t Know
5. Statue Song
6. Stay Home
7. Play Fair
8. Funny Games
The night began with Milkteeth’s singer Joey having to be scouted for, somewhat, as they took the stage for what was apparently their 3rd show this week, which was the reason for their “gettin’ a little tired.” Any fatigue, however, didn’t make its way into the music, because their set sounded light and fresh, just the way folk-influenced music is supposed to sound. Something common to most songs was their somewhat nondescript (not in a bad way) openings – you’d have to listen carefully for the guitars, which began with no indication, soon to be counterpointed by bursts of sweet violin. It topped off their songs’ inherent sweetness and flowing nature with some unpredictable charm.
The percussion was frantic yet unobtrusive on most songs, and provided a rousing feeling to Shea Heights, with its hooky vocals and call-response vocals. The vocals were intriguing – they were nasal in tone, but the attitude was more punky, which cut the syrupy sound just right. The lyrics were largely perfectly metered, as in Hobbes (which, we were informed, was written about the comic-book character and not the philosopher), which worked well with their simple melodies. The breezy I’ve Made Up My Mind saw exchanging of melodies, between vocals and violin, but they could afford to speed it up a bit, I think. Statue Song saw an escalation into double time, reminding me somewhat of semi-classical (Indian) music played on guitars (also a testament to the complexity of rhythm that folk calls for). It wasn’t all feel-good songs, though – Stay Home and Funny Games provided some appropriate weight to their set, being more brooding songs. Perhaps their most complete song, though, was Edging – the song had a lot of depth to its tune, and it epitomised their sound – violin shooting through a wall of guitar, while the percussion holds up the debris, wallpapered by edgy vocals. The almost sociopathic message of leaving your parents was well-disguised by the twisting violin, and the song ended as abruptly as it began, closing their set on a high.
Personally, I’d like to hear these guys recorded – it’d be interesting to note how they use their sound in the studio. But, that’s for another time…