Ladylike, Factories, Gospel Claws, Steff Koeppen and The Articles Crescent Ballroom Friday, May 25, 2012
See also: Ladylike Approaches '70s Pop With Sharp Tools In this week's music feature the men of Ladylike, the Tempe-based pop combo that packed Crescent Ballroom last night, discussed the difference between a live show and a recording:
"There's studio art and there's performance art," says songwriter/pianist/guitarist/vocalist Rob Kroehler (Disclosure: Kroehler contributes to New Times' Night and Day section). "They're two different things. To try and make them the same thing is to inhibit both things. Because you [wind up] confining yourself to a certain situation in the studio setting. If you confine yourself to a live setting, you're missing out on a plethora of opportunities in the studio setting."
But last night's performance at Crescent Ballroom -- bolstered by performances by local synth-pop outfit Factories, the singer/songwriter-meets-jazzy progressive rock Steff Koeppen and The Articles, and local mope pop rockers Gospel Claws (the latter bidding adieu to their guitarist, the exquisitely coiffed Wesley Hilsabeck) -- demonstrated that the band's power doesn't rest solely in the studio. On stage, Ladylike stomp, stretch, and strut, their indelible melodies causing the butts of the 20-something crowd to shake.
Seeing an all-locals show as packed (or very nearly at least) as last week's Spiritualized show at Crescent was a good feeling.
No one band "sounded" like the others. Koeppen, up from Tucson, has a fluttering, melodic voice and piano style that might have erred on the side of standard were it not for the unexpected arrangements that took songs veering in other, stranger directions. And that's no dig on her voice, either -- when she let loose on "Change Like That," it was a stunning thing to behold.
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Gospel Claws spent most of the evening show off songs from a brand-new album (they've got a Kickstarter going to fund it), and they were something special, finding singer/guitarist Joel Marquard embracing his inner-Jonathan Richman/Scott Walker, a booming new tone for the singer that inches their reverberating rock sound closer to '50s pop and early '60s soul. "It's bittersweet," Hisabeck said following the show, about his decision to leave Phoenix for Portland. "I don't know if it's more bitter or more sweet." The sentiment works as an apt description of Gospel Claws' music.
Factories -- the synth pop trio we chatted with about the '80s yesterday -- wowed the crowd with intense walls of synthetic sound and guitar. It was a little strange watching keyboardist/vocalist Audra Marscovetra go so hard while a mostly staid audience maintained the crossed-arms-indie rock stance, acquiescing little more than an occasional head nod. It makes me curious how the band's increasingly glitchy beats would go over at a proper dance night, rather than the band adding an impressive electronic edge to a guitar-rock kinda show.
"Do people even have weekends anymore?" Ladylike keyboardist Alex Tighe pondered from the stage.
They do, and they were eager to kick off Memorial Day weekend with the band, who pulled out a new one, an ode to a post-rapture, apocalyptic future. Imagine The Beach Boys (with Dennis resurrected) and Wings soundtracking The Road Warrior and you're on your way.
Jangle-pop tunes like "Bombproof" and the Graceland-like touches of "Crime of the Century" (which found trumpet and banjo easing into the mix) slowed things down a little, but the band's surefire rockers -- tunes like "Leave the Boy Alone" and "Cinema Kiss" -- had beer in the air and even -- for real -- devil horns hoisted to the sky.
Who else is ready for the weekend?
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Ladylike, Gospel Claws, Factories, Steff Koeppen and The Articles Of Note: Ladylike was strangely and wonderfully proud of drummer Ethan Hillis' chest hair. See also: Our full Ladylike slideshow.
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