By Andrew Hertzberg
It’s hard to pin down what it is I like about Cymbals Eat Guitars. Reference points for their music almost unanimously include the same '90s stalwarts that plenty of bands today try to imitate, but I think it’s CEG’s ability to take risks that sets them apart. For instance, the opening track and lead single to this year’s Lenses Alien is an eight-and-a-half-minute epic, not-quite-easing the listener into a winding album full of dissonance, odd chord progressions and introspective lyrics. And although the four-piece has a basic set up (guitar, bass, keys, drums), they achieve a great dynamicity between songs, and even within songs themselves.
That isn’t to say the songs don’t hold some amount of pop sensibility. It was easy to get a headbob going Friday night at Lincoln Hall for "Plainclothes," or at least as long as you didn't pay attention to the lyrics. Likewise, "Shore Points" was short and sweet but full of moodswings throughout. One of the biggest crowd pleasers was "Cold Spring" from their debut 2009 album Why There Are Mountains. Intertwining songs between the two albums in the live set really showed how although the band isn’t breaking entirely new ground, they are at least experimenting more and taking greater risks. Which is where "Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)," that eight-minute track, comes into play. Although the band is from New York, I feel this track in particular shows the influence of the American Northwest on the guys. Singer/guitarist Joseph D’Agostino is a pretty dead on Jeremy Enigk, sings esoteric lyrics reminiscent of Elliott Smith, with the backing music blurring the lines between Sunny Day Real Estate, Modest Mouse and Built to Spill. It was solid live, but I really wish it was used as a kick-in-the-ass opener or as a powerful closer. Oh well. They ended up closing with "Gary Condit" before coming back out to play "Indiana" from their first album, its upbeat drums and waltzy bassline almost out of place with the rest of the set.
(I feel it should be mentioned: I've never been asked by a bouncer for my sign before while checking IDs. I hope for more of this and cuter bouncers).
More photos after the jump
Check out more show reviews:
Boris at Metro
Dastardly presents 'Catastrophe' at Hideout
Smashing Pumpkins at the Riviera
Smoking Popes at Double Door
Danzig at Congress Theater