Great Northern @ Emos: A Review

So last night was our first little shindig at Emos with Great Northern. The turnout was pretty impressive considering it was a Thursday night, and I hope some of you Austin readers came out. No one said hi or anything, but then again, no one really knows what we look like either... Do we even have readers in Austin that we don't already know? If so, say hi!

Well the show was pretty good. The two opening bands were our local Experimental Aircraft and Possessed by Paul James. Experimental Aircraft was... uninspired? The layers of sound were overwhelming and made me feel kind of claustrophobic. Like the infamous judges at Project Runway always say, a point of view was lacking. Grunge? Half-ass metal? I really have no idea.

On the other hand, Possessed by Paul James really made me smile. Although I think he has Terrets or something (he whinnied and shook his head like a horse every minute), the music he created was enjoyable (unlike Terrets). Genuine bluegrass complete with fiddle, banjo, and foot-stomping as percussion, Possessed had everyone in the room whoppin' and hollerin'.

And then came Great Northern. I've always said that they're a really good-looking band, but lead singer Rachel has always seemed a bit of an ice princess to me. Fortunately, she warmed up to our always-friendly Austin crowd, cracking jokes about the crickets that attacked her onstage (she initially thought one of us had thrown something at her), and complimenting our little city, saying she "love[d] it here." Her cordiality did not go unrewarded and the band received a more than enthusiastic response after each of their songs. For good reason too. Musically, everything was en pointe, which was almost unexpected judging from past experiences at Emos (Starlight Mints suffered from poor sound quality on one of their three stages). Although male vocalist Solon Bixler's mic could definitely have been turned up (Rachel's voice totally overpowered his), the band's vocals were as smooth and dreamy as ever. Their male/female vocal combination is one to be envied. Ambient feedback and heavy percussion saturated all of their performance, leaving raw nerves to be scintillated by the waves of keyboard and guitar. Emos was transformed into an echo room that night, with each crafted sound reverberating around the space, especially so in their performance of "City of Sleep." The sounds of voice and instrument almost swarmed around me during that song, creating a cocoon that nearly did lull me away into Sleepy Land. Another standout performance was "Into the Sun," with its fun clapping rhythm that bassist Ashley Dzerigian (gorgeous, by the way) was more than happy to teach us. All in all, Great Northern provided a great, fun night for us. On that note, please, please, please come out to our next event! We'll keep you posted on that, whenever it may be.

m4a City of Sleep
m4a Into the Sun