Thursday, September 9, 2010 at Lilly's Pad, photos by John Kritzman, review by Monica Lyons:
Weekends in New Haven always hold a certain feeling of excitement as the small city buzzes with people strolling the streets looking for fun and relaxation with good people. Approaching Toad’s Place on Thursday September 9th, it certainly held true, seeing music-lovers slouched up against its brick siding making small talk with each other. I have been to the venue several times before, but had never stepped foot into Lilly’s Pad. Now that I have, I’m wondering why I’ve never been there before. The room brought about a cool vibe with its low set lighting, full bar in the back, and quaint tables and chairs lining the walls. Since Toad’s Place is such a large venue that physically separates concert-goers 21 years and older from the rest, Lilly’s Pad gave me the comforting feel of familiar venues that slap sloppy X’s on your hands and let you stand on the same floor as the band. Grabbing a beer from the bar and talking with some friends while waiting for the bands to set up, I felt very much at home.
In the three bands that performed that night, I was only familiar with Fugue, as I had seen them play at Pop Punk Is Dead Fest 2 a few weeks back in Woodbury. After trying to listen to them again through their MySpace, I decided that it didn’t nearly come close to experiencing their captivating live performance. Even though I had never even heard of Castles or Caspian, I held high hopes.
Dressed casually in sneakers and plaid shirts, Castles gave the impression of nothing too over the top, but friendly and familiar. As they began playing, slow ambient tones filled the room as the small crowd of people at Lily’s Pad gathered around the band. The singer’s solemn voice complimented the pacifying rhythm of the band, encouraging everyone to listen to the lyrics. Seeing Castles reminded me of going to a local VFW and watching your friend’s band perform for everyone living in the surrounding area. The feel is true to their background, as Castles is straight out of New Haven.
I was pumped to see Fugue. I was so pumped that I stood in the front while they were setting up to be right in the action when they played. As it became evident they were performing soon, people pushed forward to be shoulder to shoulder and up close and personal as well. Fugue is a band that’s incomparably one of a kind. Identifying themselves as experimental, progressive, and fusion, this group does not disappoint. Fugue exerts a rollercoaster of loud, complicated riffs to tight, simple beats all balled up into one song. Consisting of three guitarists, a bassist, keyboard player, and drummer, Fugue is beautifully crafted to deliver an array of obscurely organized rhythms. The band has minimal vocals which complement their music creatively with the help of a Kaoss Pad. You can’t help but totally get into it, which was clear to see from the head bobbing and swaying of the crowd. Fugue rocks.
With everyone in the right mood, it was time for Caspian to perform. They stood alone in their physical style, with mostly dressed in black and looking like they were there to dominate. The Boston-based band has been labeled as industrial post-rock with a style similar to that of Explosions in the Sky, Red Sparrows, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. As Caspian played, it was obvious that they were going to leave their mark at Lilly’s Pad. Initially, it felt like everyone in the room was sinking into a trance from the band’s progressive ambient melodies. To my surprise, Caspian knocked me off my feet and progressed in a destructive, hard-hitting sound that had me thinking, “Wow, this is heavy.” The mixture of bass, guitars, and drums bring you deep into a stage of raw emotion and buildup. For having no vocals, their music truly does all the talking. This band has major energy that makes you feel like your soul is on an adventure for the truth. Caspian’s performance delivered a sense of true liberation that consumed and shook the whole room. On the last song, all of the band members dropped their instruments to join and wail on the drum set in perfect rhythm, making for a truly epic ending. At the end, the band was extremely friendly and grateful to the crowd for watching them perform, despite some obnoxious, drunk people making loose comments from the back of the crowd. I will definitely be checking out Caspian again.
Most of the crowd stayed after the show to mingle with each other and other bands, laughing at the techno-beat submerging from Toad’s Place below the floor. There was a lingering feel in the air of good music and good people. Leaving the venue and walking out onto the streets of New Haven, I forgot where I was for a moment and couldn’t help but laugh at a group drunken college kids in matching t-shirts dragging themselves to the next club. Gotta love New Haven.
Kritzman's full album of shots from the show can be found here.