Review: Blind Man's Colour live the dream at New World Brewery
You ever been somewhere, and everything you see and hear -- and I mean every last thing -- makes you feel right at home?
I stepped out of my car Friday night in Ybor City, and the first thing I heard was a band that sounded exactly like my second-favorite group, Death Cab For Cutie. I walked into New World Brewery, and I knew the first four people I saw. I asked the bartender for something exotic and dark, and he offered me a Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale, which went down surprisingly fast. A couple of strangers -- both of whom could have been characters in Richard Linklater's Slacker* -- engage me in conversation. There was Simpsons miscellanea sprinkled throughout the bar, and at one point, a Mitch Hedberg special appeared on the overhead TVs.
For me, all the gears were clicking on this night. And I'm not even a New World Brewery regular.
New World Brewery is not just a bar, though it is a very good one. It's not just a concert venue, though it is that, too -- My Morning Jacket and Animal Collective have both played its spectacular shedlike patio.
What it is, is the dictionary definition of a hangout -- a place where you'll fit right in if you have any interest whatsoever in indie rock. Or even if you don't.
All of which made it the perfect place for much-blogged-about St. Pete dream-rock band Blind Man's Colour to make their live debut.
The short version of the Blind Man's Colour story: Three teenage classmates at Shorecrest Preparatory School write and record an atmospheric, psychedelia-tropicalia album with a heavy Animal Collective influence. They go their separate ways to college, but continue sending the album to a series of music blogs, hoping to catch a break.
A couple of prominent blogs bite, which leads to a plug from a most unlikely source: Kanye West. Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste also lavishes praise in the band, who sign with Brooklyn's Kanine Records (Chairlift, Oxford Collapse). Their debut album, Season Dreaming, is due in August.
One problem: Aside from one tiny show at the beach, Blind Man's Colour had never played live. They didn't even know if their experimental pop sound could be recreated in a live setting. So they added a fourth member on bass and spent the first half of the summer learning to become a band.
If Friday's show was any indication, they're doing a pretty good job of it.
The first band up was Tampa/New Port Richey combo Proud Iron Lion, and as I just mentioned, they were dead ringers for a lyricless Death Cab For Cutie, circa The Photo Album. Their three-guitar sound was scorelike, emotive, symphonic. During one song, they handed out a bag of schoolchild instruments -- kazoo, shakers, woodblock, mini-cymbals, tambourines -- so the crowd could play along. At that point my insides were officially lined with fuzz. Wonderful stuff.
Up second was Orlando's Viernes, a more experimental duo who have also been getting some love from national indie-rock blogs, and who opened for Deerhunter in March. The Deerhunter comparison is a good place to start, though their fuzzy, droning sound structures also reminded me a little of My Bloody Valentine and, yet again, Animal Collective. For me, Viernes' best songs were the ones that were more percussive and driving, like Regressive Soul Pollution. If it had a beat, and you could bounce to it, it was pretty good.
Then it was time for Blind Man's Colour, or, as Viernes guitarist Alberto Hernandez called them, "the sensation." Singer-guitarist Kyle Wyss said before the show he was nervous, which was understandable. The band looked a little unsure of themselves during their setup, relying on the sound guy for help, and no doubt concerned about the speaker that shorted out during Viernes's final song.
But when they started playing, they sounded just fine.
For the most part, Wyss played guitar and sang lead, though he switched with co-founder and keyboardist Orhan Chettri once. The band's signature echo-heavy, beach-influenced, "underwater" sound was intact from the first song, a sixties-psychedelic track that was a little reminiscent of a drugged-out pirate chanty. Jimmy Dove was still psychedelic, but surprisingly glam-rocky, its upbeat blips and big, Bowielike chords providing a nice live makeover.
Anxious Place was joyous and thunderous, and even though the keyboard output dropped on the fourth and penultimate song, the vaguely calypso-disco The Warm Current's Pull, some of the band's friends in the crowd started dancing. A few begged the band to play another song (not really an option, since they only prepared four, but Wyss offered a sparse, delicate solo guitar number he said he wrote with his brother).
So if you're wondering whether Blind Man's Colour can bring it live, the answer is, yes, that seems to be the case -- for four songs, at least. If you missed them Friday, you can still catch Blind Man's Colour tonight (7/25) at BackBooth in Orlando for a free show with Viernes and Dark Sea of Awareness. Then it's on to New York for a few shows, and back to Tampa at the end of August for a concert at Crowbar.
Regardless of whether Blind Man's Colour does become "the next Animal Collective," they're off to a good start. If their first concert had taken place in Brooklyn, it might have sold out. But it's good that they were here.
Like I said: Everything at New World Brewery just clicks.
Next up in The 50-50 Club: Maxwell, July 30, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*
* One told me about the 10-minute songs he's been composing on his home 4-track. The other told me she was working on a sound-collage project where she would be interviewing complete strangers about overcoming heartbreak. For some reason, I found myself genuinely intrigued by both.