Concert Review

Girls, Nobunny, and Papa at Cat’s Cradle, 9/17/2011

Walking up to Cat’s Cradle, I went to the front door like always…but I was redirected around to the side of the building.  After waiting 40 minutes after the doors were supposed to open, the crowd was let in.  What I walked into was not the Cat’s Cradle I was expecting: everything was gone.  I was standing in a massive open space, with only the soundboard sitting between the stage and bar.  At first it felt like the building was remodeled after an outside festival stage.  To be honest, I was unsure what to think.

After the initial shock upon walking in, I found a spot and waited for the first band, Papa, to start.  As the band began their short set, I realized that the design of the venue was not the only thing that had been revamped; the sound that came through the monitors was clear. Really clear. After some bad concert experiences, I have trained myself not to expect too much from the sound system at Cat’s Cradle, so it is an understatement to say I was pleasantly surprised to hear each instrument loud and clear!

Papa has a characteristically 50’s sound they share, to some extent, with both Nobunny and Girls.  The reverb-y Jaguar, complimented by bouncy piano chords and rolling drum patterns, has become something of a staple in indie music recently.  Each member of the band played well and the singing was solid, but there was something missing from the equation.  The melodies often sounded a little forced and overly poppy; the crowd seemed to enjoy their set though, so it may just be me.  I see a lot of potential in Papa, especially if they work on writing songs that don’t confine so strictly to pop’s barriers.

After Papa had finished and packed up their equipment, Nobunny began to set up their instruments along the front of the stage.  I learned beforehand that their show was a little intense, but I was still surprised when the lead singer walked out wearing only a dilapidated bunny mask, half of a jacket, a metal-studded leather belt-vest, and briefs (something like this).  Yep, no pants.  He put on his guitar and proceeded to go absolutely insane.  I’m talking about yelping lyrics that may or may not have any meaning at all, while strumming hard enough to induce an aneurysm.  The band excited a large part of the crowd standing towards the front of the stage, but as I looked behind my spot somewhere in the middle, I saw a lot of faces that weren’t buying into the whole spectacle of it all.  I guess you were either really into the act or not.

As soon as Girls stepped onto the stage, the crowd gave them a serious amount of applause; I was pretty startled by how loud the cheering was.  They started off their set by playing a bunch of songs from Album, their 2009 release.  Chris Owens was friendly, talking about how he was trying to change up their setlist for each show on the tour.

Coming in with a few upbeat songs from the Broken Dreams Club EP, the sound started to really hit me…and once they came in with Vomit, the single from their new album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, I freaked out.  After the fourth-or-so verse, the band went into an intense, abstract noise jam, one of my favorite concert moments of the year so far.

After a few more cuts from the new album, the band left the stage to a stream of cheers for an encore.  There was an even a chant: “GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!” that went on for a while.

The band came out for another amazing five or six songs; Chris said they played every song they knew.  This included a loud rendition of my favorite Girls’ track, Morning Light.  Towards the end of the encore, there was even a disclaimer from Chris to local media: he did not want to see a review stating that the set fell apart at the end, as they were playing an unrehearsed version of another new album track, Just a Song.  I can honestly say that the hour and forty-five minute (!) set did not fall apart, nor did it drag on as some long sets do.  I could tell the band was having a lot of fun, which made it great for the audience as well.

By the end of the show, the newly deconstructed Cat’s Cradle didn’t feel weird anymore.  I can’t wait to go to another show there!