Artist: Fair To Midland
Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
Opener: Karnivool, Something To Burn
Label: Serjical Strike
Before I begin this narrative I want to rewind a couple of years to when some friends told me that the opening band for The 69 Eyes & Wednesday 13’s show was very much worth seeing. Sadly I would bypass on their advice because with only limited background on the group I would choose to pass on this first up opening slot tonight and “wait for the next time”. Of course when I arrived at the venue I was informed about my missing something very, very special and that next time did not seem to come until this evening. If they did shows in the region I just was not paying as much attention to the scene as I think I am and that made their headlining set in NYC a definite, must not miss bit of entertainment. Not only was I curious beyond a doubt about their live gig but it was also the final day of our March Metal Madness adventures and wow what a month this had been when it came down to it. For some of you the band Fair To Midland is no longer a mystery and you might already know about how great and powerful the melodies are on that most recently released album “Fables From A Mayfly, What I Tell You Three Times Is True”. After learning what I had missed out on I sunk my teeth into the album as well and regretted my decision of the time. Oh well, let that be a lesson to me – when a number of friends in “the know” recommend something, it is very smart for me to walk along the same path and see what the buzz is all about. The show would be held at The Gramercy Theatre (surprise, surprise) and feature both Something To Burn and Karnivool on the bill as well. Since I wanted to absorb the whole event I made sure to arrive just as the STB guys walked on stage.
Something To Burn: I had a little experience with Something To Burn having heard some of their music in the past but it would be the first time that I would be catching them live. From my observation they had a decent amount of fans for them in the audience as well tonight and that is not always something you see for the very first band up. That’s a good thing and they did deliver what seemed to be a solid set of catchy tunes. The band is signed to Softdrive Records, which is a label founded by Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver front man Scott Weiland and since the singer is really good at what he does, one can hope that his label roster is in good hands. The band is fronted by Greg Wayne who really played it up for those in the front and they also feature a pair of brothers as their rhythm section with Jeff and Shawn Ballard handling bass and drums respectively. Jimmy Norman plays guitars. Their debut on Softdrive is entitled “Transitions” and the album has been available for a few months. They sounded good enough for me to see again so I shall be watching out for them. Maybe you want to do the same. Karnivool was up next.
Karnivool: “Sound Awake” was my first go at the band Karnivool and I liked what I heard on this album because it was vastly different from the other stuff I had been listening to of late. The band hails from Perth in Australia and unless I am mistaken, has never been over to this part of the world for touring. Lucky for them, the guys in Fair To Midland wanted to give their audience something cool to enjoy. In terms of style, the best way to review what Karnivool is doing is to place them in your Alternative Rock meets Progressive Rock framework because the vibe they deliver has a number of clever musical changes and yet still gives a heavy underlying groove. They are fronted by Ian Kenny who actually won “Best Male Vocalist” in his country back in 2007 and the band is quite popular over there as result. Tonight they would be doing their thing for an entirely new crowd and it seemed as though much of what they were doing was enthralling the audience based on the way it sounded in the live sense. My only exposure to them was with the “Sound Awake” CD as I had mentioned and lucky for me they would play quite a few numbers from it and not leave me lost from song to song. As a singer Kenny is very animated and seems to be feeling the tunes but next to him the bassist was going to town on the stage. He was so into this gig tonight and made watching them all the more fun. I tried to think of a band that they reminded me of but could not off the top of my head. I will say that the stuff from “Sound Awake” sounds good live and might be something you want to look into in the future. I was happy to see them going over well with this NYC crowd and I imagine that we shall see them returning sometime in the future if other shows are met with the same reception. Now it was time to queue the dramatic music, for Fair To Midland was ready to rock.
Fair To Midland: After my mistake about catching their opening set some years ago, I mentioned that I dug into the “Fables From A Mayfly, What I Tell You Three Times Is True” CD, so I was really looking forward to tonight’s gig so I could see how it all came together on stage. When the band hit the boards it was solid energy all around the members and quite honestly it appeared as if the focal point of all of this was coming from singer Darroh Sudderth who was a powder keg from the second the spotlight hit him. He was running in every direction and not missing a note and it was at times very difficult to keep ones eyes trained on him since he was moving so fast. They are signed to Serj Tankian’s Serjical Strike Records and you know its something interesting if someone like Serj jumps behind their work. I only knew the songs from the “Fables” release and while they did do “Kyla Cries Cologne” and “The Seafarer’s Knot” which are killer, I was really looking forward to a few others more. I really like Darroh as a singer because he has a wide range to his voice. There are times when he growls like the best Dark Metal singer, and then times when it’s a very melodic clean register that allows for easy understanding of the words and gets the audience singing along quickly. He impresses all the more with a soaring high register that needs to be heard to be believed and yes, he can do this in concert and that won me over something fierce. Since this was a co-headlining show, it seemed as though each band did a healthy set but also one that would move rather quickly. I was expecting to hear “The Wife, The Kids and The White Picket Fence” but they would not play it tonight and that depressed me a little since its one of my favorites from the album and after one or two more tunes that I was not 100% on, they would close up the night with “Dance Of The Manatee”. It made sense to close with this one as it was one of the bands most played songs when the album was initially released and hence became their “hit” in some sense.
Closing up I can say that I would have liked a little more dramatic use of the lighting for the show and felt that someone was asleep when the band was on and the sound was also a bit uneven. That is a problem that more people are reporting at the venue from time to time and it surprises me since this was a movie theatre at one time. I would have liked a couple of more songs from the main acts but in the end we still did find that the audience got their money’s worth and was suitably entertained. It was a very different kind of show to wrap up our March Metal Madness with and it sure left us wondering how any of the other months that would be coming this year could hope to measure up. Only time will be able to tell. Stay tuned. FTM is currently finishing up their next full length recording and I guess we shall also see this being released on Serjical Strike.
Karnivool Set List:
1. Simple Boy
4. Set Fire to the Hive
5. All I Know
6. Dead Man
7. New Day
FTM Set List:
1. Walls Of Jericho
3. Kyla Cries Cologne
5. Tall Tales Taste Like Sour Grapes
7. The Seafarer’s Knot
9. Dance Of The Manatee
Here’s a shot of the marquee for this evening’s shindig, I’ve been enjoying presenting these visuals to the readership and since I believe that tonight was the band’s first night headlining the venue how could I pass that up.
I am pretty sure that Karnivool was playing in NYC for the very first time tonight, but if I am wrong in this please pardon my error. We wanted to give them a little props by presenting their name on the marquee tonight as well. Great job everyone. Please come back soon.