Mr. Meeble at Crescent Ballroom, 11/18/11 (VIDEO)

Mr. Meeble Crescent Ballroom Friday, November 18, 2011

Last night was Mr. Meeble's homecoming after a two-month European tour that the group planned entirely on its own. The Crescent Ballroom gave Meeble a warm welcome, and judging by how many times frontman Devin Fleenor said, "It's good to be back," the feeling was mutual.

It's difficult to say what was more impressive, the band's performance or the visual effects. I'm going to take the high road and say both. As the lights dimmed and the room filled with smoke, all eyes were on Rick Heins' pedal steel. The music was foreboding, like the soundtrack to a nightmare or a pending catastrophe.

A flicker of white light revealed Devin Fleenor, whose body was almost completely obscured by the darkness. His face was projected on a screen that was connected to his neck.

Mr. Meeble's sound falls somewhere between Radiohead and Stereolab, incorporating all sorts of unique melodies that are difficult to describe. In this week's music feature, Fleenor said a fan compared Mr. Meeble's music to a David Lynch film. That is an accurate assessment--the group is tough to categorize and creates music that is as creative as it is creepy and irresistible.

The night played out like a twisted Lynchian fantasy -- without any deformed babies. The ambient music told a story of a pending apocalypse and the wasteland that follows. Some songs were a little more lighthearted, as indicated by the laser show which always set the mood.

For example, Fleenor said this song was "supposed to feel like you were underwater."

The light show climaxed during the band's final song. Fleenor opened his mouth to reveal a red light as lasers scanned him up and down, to suggest he was being totally consumed by light.

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As usual, local instrumentalists Underground Cities did not disappoint. Their performances are like watching Explosions in the Sky-- both bands play epic post rock and have a fantastic stage presence, but Underground Cities sets itself apart with a xylophone player and accessibility.

Underground Cities performed frequently until last night, the band's first appearance at The Crescent Ballroom, and its final show of 2011. Fortunately, there are talks of a CD release party sometime around February. The band played quite a few songs that will be on the upcoming full-length album, as well as favorites from The Dalliance Album.

Since Back Ted N-Ted was abducted by aliens (this piece of paper says so, so it must be true), Orphans, a local indie/shoegaze quartet was the first act to take the stage. Their mellow songs kind of blended together, but that's not to say they were a bad band. The Rhodes piano was a treat to hear and the female drummer was fun to watch, but all in all, Orphans was forgettable compared to Mr. Meeble and Underground Cities.

Mr. Meeble Setlist 1. Intro "Spacey Sounds, no Key" (according to the setlist) 2. I Fell Through 3. Fine 4. Everything is Good 5. Dragonfly 6. Until I Grasp 7. Star Power 8. Idea 4 9. Gift 10. Liar 11. Ton of Bricks

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Mr. Meeble at Crescent Ballroom.

Personal Bias: I dig Never Trust The Chinese and was looking forward to seeing Meeble for the first time.

The Crowd: It was so dark I could hardly tell.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I'm tripping balls, woo!" (random claps) "I am!"

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