Review and photos: Fiery Furnaces, GreyMarket and Glasgow at the Orpheum

23

August

Fiery.furnaces.eleanor.freidberger

(This is the 44th entry in Soundcheck's summer concert series, The 50-50 Club. For previous entries, click here.)

You want to know what found interesting about Saturday night's concert by Brooklyn indie rockers the Fiery Furnaces at the Orpheum?

Aside from the music, I mean. The Fiery Furnaces play an arty, quirky, raucous style of indie rock that has earned the band a national following. That's always interesting.

No, what intrigued me was the lineup of openers: Tampa's Glasgow and GreyMarket, two bands who've had a bit of a breakout summer. They were filling in for White Rabbits, who have been opening for the Fiery Furnaces on this tour, but were booked elsewhere tonight.

Put all three together, and you have a modern indie-rock headliner the likes of which Tampa Bay has yet to produce ... and two bands who are hoping to become just that.

Putting aside the 2009 success of St. Pete's Blind Man's Colour, Tampa hasn't seen a single breakout blog band that has elevated

Sure, a lot of bands -- like the Fiery Furnaces -- pop out of Brooklyn or some other hipster haven. You've got your Grizzly Bears, your Dirty Projectors, your Yeasayers, your TV on the Radios*.

But looking around the country, there's also Wavves (San Diego), Midlake (Denton, Texas), Bon Iver (Eau Claire, Wisc.) and, going back a few years, Miami's Iron & Wine.

Unlike those cities, Tampa just hasn't produced a band that's put it on the blog-rock map. We have good bands here; it's just that Stereogum and Pitchfork haven't shown an interest just yet. Maybe Blind Man's Colour will be that breakout band. Maybe it'll be someone else.

Maybe, for example, it'll be Glasgow.

Glasgow1

Tbt* first profiled this band in January, and over the past few months, I've gotten at least one e-mail and one phone call from random folks telling me I should check them out. What I've heard of their music, I've liked (and I even like their side project Mend, too). And with an EP on the near horizon, there's a good chance Glasgow will play more local shows in the not-too-distant future.

A southern folk-rock foursome peppered with doses of Jason Isbell, My Morning Jacket and especially The Thrills, Glasgow played first on Saturday. If you're into local music, they've got two of the catchiest singles you'll hear all fall: The Marksman and The Blue and the Grey (you can hear both songs on their MySpace).

Burly, bearded frontman Matt Segallos has a pleasantly sonorous Southern warble (not far from Conor Oberst territory) to go with a borderline unhinged electricity onstage. And I've got to give it up for drummer Reed Murray, who crushed the kit on the thundrous outro to Arizona.

Next came GreyMarket, an alt-prog duo who caught my attention with an eye-popping set at Tropical Heatwave. Since then, they've opened for the Hold Steady, Peter Murphy of Bauhaus, Black Moth Super Rainbow and now the Fiery Furnaces. And this fall, they'll try to expand the brand with an East Coast and Midwest tour**.

There's a reason these guys keep getting these gigs: They're like ready-made rock stars. They look the part, they're technically brilliant, they're full of energy onstage, and they even come with their own custom light show. As I wrote in May, the bands GreyMarket most reminds me of are Muse, Mute Math and the Killers. After seeing them again, I'd add a more proggish version of the White Stripes, if Meg actually contributed anything of note.

Greymarket2 

As you can see from the photo, GreyMarket is only two dudes, singer-guitarist Cave McCoy and drummer-laptopper Mike Gargiulo, but they get the most out of their limited membership. McCoy stomps and staggers, wails and flails all over the stage (and even into the crowd) while Gargiulo monitors all the other music and propels things forward on a steady, pounding path.

Swathed in a homemade hurricane of blue, pink, green and gold lights, the band's music and energy is massive. Even in a small club like the Orpheum or New World Brewery, they come across like a band that could step right in and play a festival -- which must be why all these national artists keep asking them to open their shows. They are prompt, professional and punishing. 

After Glasgow and GreyMarket, why bother with the Fiery Furnaces? Well, there's a reason they've got a national following, and it isn't just because Pitchfork loves 'em. They're raw and supremely original, like a blues band that decided to mix prog-rock with jazz and indie, just to see if they could.

Brother and sister Matthew (guitar) and Eleanor (vocals) Friedberger have a long history of oddball projects***, but almost immediately, the band I heard most in their music was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Eleanor was nowhere near as animated as the YYY's Karen O, but the skittery out-there melodies and Matthew's art-punk guitarwork felt like they would have fit on Fever To Tell or Show Your Bones.

A lot of their music sounds ridiculously complex, like it's 15 songs in one. The time signatures changed constantly. The rhythms stutterstepped like Adrian Peterson. There were interludes that sounded like spoken word, and other times when Eleanor just hovered around the stage nursing a PBR tallboy.

The times when the Fiery Furnaces really showed me something were when they stripped away the opacity and just rocked, as on the rockabilly stomper I'm Going Away, or the bluesy rocker Japanese Slippers, or the edgy Worry Worry, or the soulful show-closer Evergreen.

Those are the songs that can break a band on a national level. Glasgow and GreyMarket have songs like that, and so do other local bands.

How long until it happens for one of them?

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

* Or would that be TVs on the Radio?

** You can catch GreyMarket next weekend, Aug. 29, at Summer Jam 5 at New World Brewery.

*** Of note: The Fiery Furnaces have been billing this tour as a series of health care reform rallies, but aside from a signup sheet at their merch table, and a single one-line plug from Matthew Friedberger toward the end of the set, I didn't hear any rabble being roused.

Below, check out some more photos of the Fiery Furnaces, GreyMarket and Glasgow.

  • [Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:12pm]

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