Monday, March 24, 2014

Show Review: Ava Luna w/ Krill & Blanko Basnet

Ava Luna performs at The Pinhook
Last Wednesday night The Pinhook was home to a wonderfully eclectic mixture of bands. Some of the most enjoyable lineups are the ones that you don't quite think would mesh well together, but once you get to the show it all doesn't seem to matter anymore. There's a sense of spontaneity that keeps the night exciting, and that's exactly what happened in Durham on Wednesday night. Ava Luna and Krill were wrapping up their SXSW run and making their way back up north, which as a southerner that doesn't get to trek down to South-by is always a joyous time. The two acts teamed up with Blanko Basnet, a group that's become a go-to opener for buzz bands like these, and brought one hellaciously fun show to an intimate Pinhook crowd.

The evening kicked off with Blanko Basnet and a set that was filled with roving guitar licks and infectious choruses. Joe Hall's vocal melodies display a staggering sense of dynamic shifts, one minute you're hooked on the buoyant verses then the song upheaves its pre-set structure and shifts into swiftly changing chords, brisk drum beats and some subtle harmonies. Blanko Basnet played some of the standouts from their debut full length that was released last summer and threw in a new track as well, which makes me excited to know that Blanko won't just be a one-off side-project from this Hammer No More The Fingers guitarist.

Krill performs at The Pinhook
Blanko made for a smooth transition into the indie-punk leaning power-trio of Krill. Despite a set mired technical difficulties with their microphone, Krill rolled right along with it, even joking that "it wouldn't be a Krill set if something didn't mess up." But the band never lost their footing, blasting through short songs filled with heavily distorted guitar, throaty shouts and tight drum beats that drove these songs along with a headstrong sense of determination. While Blanko's brand of indie rock eased the crowd into the evening, Krill thrusted their sounds upon the crowd with the ferocity of a punk act but the smooth sensibilities of a pop-rock group. Krill's romping sense of intensity was anchored by vocalist Jonah Furman's swiftly spat vocals, tying together the entire aesthetic of this Boston-based indie punk crew.

While the openers of the evening proved to be an exciting combination of two different ends of the indie-rock spectrum, Ava Luna took the night up to the next level. Sure this self-described "nervous soul" act displays a bit of punk-rock influence in their spastic rhythmic tendencies, but most of Ava Luna's songs are firmly rooted in a far weirder territory than the previous acts. Ava Luna is defined by their eccentricity, whether vocalist Carlos Hernandez is belting out his frenetic shouts or Becca Kaufman and Felicia Douglas are smoothly crooning their way into the listener's hearts, you're guaranteed an entertaining performance. With equal parts R&B and peculiar art-rock, Ava Luna played through some of Electric Balloon's standout tracks like "Daydream," "PRPL," and "Sears Roebuck M&Ms" while tossing in some of the best tracks from their debut Ice Levels. Their set felt like an anomalous blend of the quirk and tenacity of Talking Heads and the vocal prowess of Dirty Projectors, making for a weird yet whimsical closing to this incredible night of music.

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