Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Show review: Project Film, Exit Ghost, Lakesigns, Jesus Crisis at Reggie's, 6/17

By Sasha Geffen

Project Film (photo: Sasha Geffen)
I've always thought of Reggie's as a lingering hub of tough-guy aggro-rock, but before Friday I'd only ever ventured into the Rock Club. Don't get me wrong: I love a good mosh pit, even the slightly curtailed circles of chaos security allows on the Rock Club's small floor. But enjoying a show at the adjacent Music Joint space is a different experience entirely. The Joint acts as a chiller counterpart to the boisterous Club, and the Friday lineup epitomized summer chill as it closed off a day of perfect June weather.

Project Film stopped by for a last home city show before they head off to tour the west coast. The duo filled out their lineup with bass and drums, adding some great volume and texture to their charming indie pop. Fretless bass noodlings nicely filled out frontman Sam McAllister's rhythm guitar work; jams like the instrumental "Ink" particularly took on new life in the open air of the stage. We heard a handful of songs from PF's debut Chicago as well as some newer material, all carried by an unfailingly earnest delivery.

I first saw the indie Americana group Exit Ghost perform nearly two years ago. Back then, a rustic introspection permeated their stage presence. Since then, Exit Ghost has gotten louder and more spirited, amping up the guitars in favor of explosive rock sounds. The lead guitar work, emanating from a strat outfitted with single coil actives, rang out juicy and sweet atop frontman Evan Holmes's Les Paul rhythm work. I love a good tone in a guitar band and Exit Ghost did not disappoint; that modded Fender sounded fantastic. The foursome played some material from their upcoming EP before closing with their flagship track "Jordan River," a soulful epic that got absolutely monstrous in the small space of the Joint. Imagine a simple folk tune sheathed in plastic explosives and you've got an idea of what Exit Ghost unleashed on the Reggie's stage.

The fellow Hyde Park outfit Lakesigns enjoy throwing in unexpected instrumentation to the standard rock outfit. While normally a saxophone player might immediately tip off the "lounge act" alarm for me, their sax carries itself well out of the realm of cliche. Lakesigns get expansive, and the sax fits freely within the space of their songs. Their set proved that it's possible to make music that's at once energetic and completely relaxed. Their soaring jams were both punchy and breezy, peaceful, but never groggy. With no clear frontman, Lakesigns swapped instruments and vocal duties around between nearly every song, tossing around a Warwick bass and a handsome ukelele among members.

Closers Jesus Crisis reminded me that it's the future now by being the first band I've seen to use an iPad as an instrument onstage. I've seen MacBooks aplenty as part of electronic rigs, and I suppose the tablet is a more convenient way to serve the same purpose. In this case, the purpose was to stud thrashy math-punk with quirky electronic texture. The duo flailed on a red PRS and a drum kit, hammering out complex chirping melodies over panicked rhythms occasionally punctuated by monosyllabic vocals. Their nervous energy contrasted starkly with the rest of the set's chill vibe, but their ferocious minimalist attacks were a beast unto their own.

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