Last week, Hollis and the Widows, Drama Culture and Oliver The Great filled Casa Del Popolo’s tiny side room with a dense haze of rich, reverberating sound, thicker than the fog on an east coast morning. They didn’t have to try very hard for the audience’s attention, proving far more impressive than their myspaces depicted. For a Wednesday night offering two fairly unknown local bands and a third band from Toronto, a decent spattering of people made the room feel cozy. Dim the lights, add a caramel spotlight and the gleam of beer glasses in the honey-hued glow, and the scene should conjure fond memories of past evenings in similar spaces.
I caught the last few minutes of Hollis and the Widows, leaving myself enough time to grab a drink, take a seat and stare appreciatively at the lead singer, as he nonchalantly rocked out on his electric guitar. Their music is the kind that makes me want to dress in tight black leather and smash my rye on the floor, best listened to in a dingy underground venue with no windows and permanent graffiti on the bathroom stalls. Their grungy rock songs ricocheted off the walls, resonating with the tiny crowd.
I really dug Drama Culture’s minimalistic grunge vibe, playing with only two guitarists and occasionally a drummer. The lead singer had a beautifully unique voice, laced with quirky inflections that marked a refreshing digression from everything indie-rock. Playing barefoot, his long hair tied back, he was as captivating to watch as he was to listen to.
Oliver the Great closed the night with a tight set and an enthusiastic performance. These guys really upped the ante, sending the audience into a trance of musical euphoria. The opening number set the tone, and the foursome did not disappoint. Their second song, a lengthy transcendental tune, coiled around the room like smoke lofting from an incense stick, hazily drifting past gently bopping heads as the lead singer’s vocals melted like hash on a hot knife. Yeah.
Incorporating horns, petals and effects on the mic, Oliver the Great orchestrated a thirty minute set of polished, well-rehearsed tunes, while groovin’ to the music and looking like they loved it. Their last song, Running, was a sexy lil number worthy of the groupies who huddled in front of the stage, bopping along to the beat.
You can see Oliver The Great for yourself on Sept. 2 at 9:00 pm, when they take the stage at Quai Des Brumes, along with Give Me Something Beautiful and Groenland.
Photo Creds: Laurie Bush for William McDuff’s photo