Thursday, March 13, 2014

Show Review: No Eyes w/ Jenny Besetzt, Naked Naps

No Eyes performing at Kings Barcade on Mar. 7
This lineup was a great fit together, a fan of any of the bands individually would easily dig the other two. For $5, it was a no-brainer. Considering that tidbit in addition to timing with Raleigh's First Friday, I was expecting a big turnout. While the crowd wasn't uncomfortable thin by any means, I do think the 24+ hours of freezing rain, icy roads and torrential winds that made the infamous Martin Street wind tunnel more intense than usual (I typically feel like I'm in a hair commercial versus the brink of a tornado), nudged people to stay in.

Naked Naps came on stage at about 9:45. The two-piece sets up facing each other slightly angled out towards the audience. They're playing their music and having fun, not to imply that the audience is put on the backburner, but it isn't their main concern once they're on stage. Catie Yerkes has two guitars and a modest pedal collection. The second guitar came in handy when she broke a string mid-set, ignoring the hiccup entirely until the song was over without missing a beat. John Meier also killed it on drums, especially on a new song they revealed to us last night that will be on a split 7" with Greensboro-based Black Santa. From his fringed drum seat, he wailed with badass solos where typically subtle fills would be and it worked so well. Every time I see Naked Naps they keep getting better. Keep your eye on them. 

It seemed like overall Jenny Besetzt was the biggest draw of the night. They've done some switching in and out with their lineup, but came across really strong last night after a few songs in and sound adjustments in the monitors. Bradley Morton and John Wollaber front the band with vocals, guitars and keys. A friend likened Wollaber's vocals to The Cure's Robert Smith, which I thought was a pretty accurate comparison.  This was the first show I've seen with Thomas McNeely playing, who covered bass. Drummer Hunter Allen is one of the best drummers I've seen, besides being incredibly talented he's really fun to watch, dancing in his seat and just a general swanky style of hitting the kit. He played with different sounds and textures through various means: switching out cymbals from chipped ones to unbroken, covering the snare with bandannas, attaching metal beads to a cymbal, duct taping a tambourine to the hi-hat, and playing left-handed with a shaker in his right.

Jenny Besetzt was a good dreamy segway into No Eyes' spacey set.  Projections lit up Kings' big back wall of the stage, divided into thirds to match perfectly with the cut out already there. The visuals varied from floating drawings to spiraling kaleidoscopes and mandalas, with the offset of some more unsettling visuals, like closeups of crazy eyes center stage sandwiched between fuzziness and distortion, in both a visual and audible sense. The setlist was solid and engaging. The focal point for watching the band was definitely on the backdrop, but the members weren't stagnant on stage. Moving around in their own interpretation, the guitarists were veiled by long hair and drummer concealed by the shadows of the projections, meanwhile the bassist was painted with hallucinatory colorful designs shooting from the soundboard.  

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