Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Show Review: The American Dollar, The Files and Fires, Wess Meets West, Martin Luther King

Words: Monica Lyons
Pics: John Kritzman Full set of photos HERE!

On Wednesday, April 13, The Files and Fires kicked off their album release with a show at the Heirloom Arts Theatre in Danbury along with performances by The American Dollar, Wess Meets West, and Martin Luther King. I was very surprised to see that the initial small crowd inside the venue didn’t get much bigger as the night went on. In fact, it was the smallest show I’d ever been to. Nonetheless, the undersized gathering made for a more intimate performance for who was there.

I stood from the balcony inside the venue as Wess Meets West began as the first performance of the night. The band played as a giant projection screen behind them displayed different sequences of images, such as reverse footage of moving cars, which pleasantly synched up with their sound. They laid their melodic foundation and really get into the heaviness that evolves throughout their songs. I’ve seen Wess Meets West a few times before, but no two performances seem alike. They did play their ever popular “The Mountains are Shaking at the Roots,” in which guitarist Sam Stauff and bassist Erick Alfisi intensely chant the title and join Brian DiCrescenzo in loud percussion hits. Wess Meets West exceeds any three piece band expectations to produce passionate rhythmic elements, deep emotion and a seriously genuine feel. At the end of the night, I picked up a copy of their latest project, The Sun The Moon The Master, which unfortunately, in my opinion, falls short in capturing their immensely large live sound. Wess Meets West is definitely a band to be seen in the flesh.

Martin Luther King disrupted the ambient theme of the night and brought pop-punk intensity full of strained vocals and catchy fast-paced rhythms. Their presence felt really young and earnest, displaying sincerity and emotion in their sound. I appreciated how straightforward they were and didn’t use any trendy effects or complicated, over-the-top progressions. It was disappointing that not many people were there to watch their performance, but the existing crowd made it a point to stand directly in front of them. Martin Luther King’s set was brief, but they excitingly announced they’ll be playing in Chubbastock in New Britain on April 23 for anyone who was interested.

The American Dollar gave an aesthetically pleasing performance as the Queens-based duo synched their songs up with deliberately vivid, abstract films on the projection screen. It was easy to zone out listening to their mesmerizing sound while watching powerful images of atomic bombs and surreal landscapes. “If you go to our website, which is theamericandollar.info, we have references for all the different people who made those videos on there,” told drummer John Emanuele. Their songs flowed from slow and hazy into an intense and dramatic climax as Richard Cupolo played keyboard and guitar with almost no visible emotion. The experience of their live performance was captivating, but my only hang up was that it was almost too long of a set. Listening to The American Dollar while sitting on the side of the venue and staring up at the towering artistic visuals almost made for a better show.

The Files and Files played last, incorporating songs from their newly released second album, For People Talk Lightly. The emotion and ambiance surrounding The Files and Fires is truly beautiful. They are able to incorporate elements such as soft, classically influenced piano chords and repetitive snare and crashing cymbals to create a deeply unique, almost eerie, sound. Sam Stauff, guitarist of Wess Meets West, filled in as bassist for the band that night. Clips from Planet Earth displayed on the screen behind them, with cheetahs ripping apart gazelles as the band played songs such as “Red and White.” Though the themes of nature matched fairly well with the wholesomeness of The Files and Fires, I thought the images were rather distracting at times, like when people couldn’t help but laugh at a huge visual of birds mating on screen during their performance. Despite this, the mood was light and personal as fans from the crowd blew bubbles into their set and band members laughed and popped them midair. The band’s new material was handed out for free, creatively packaged in a paperboard sleeve and tied with string. “It turned out really well,” said Tyler J. Smith, whom plays keyboard and electronics for The Files and Fires, “we did a lot of layers on the album so it’s sort of a lot fuller than the live sound, but we try to make it sound as full as possible by adding a lot of noise. I wrote out some string arrangements for two of our really good friends, so we had some violins on it too. I’m really happy with it.” Though no strings were present at the Heirloom that night, the Files and Fires captured their usual atmospheric feeling. “One thing about our sound; we try to be very dynamic, texturally as well as level-wise,” Smith told, “the songs tend to come from some place small and wind up some place larger.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please help The Files & Fires raise funds to record a new album! Spread this link around and donate for some awesome rewards! We appreciate everyone's support of our music and hope to continue making more!