I Saw Death Vessel at Emos

After months and months of spinning this album in my room I was finally able to put a face to the band. Sure, I had seen a few pictures of Joel Thibodeau, frontman and main songwriter of Death Vessel, but I desperately needed to put a face to that voice that continuously haunted the speakers on the floor next to my IKEA bed. Read the full story after the jump.I got my wish, but more on that later. The opener, Micah Blue Smaldone, was a quiet start to the evening. The young man, who would later take the stage manning an up-right bass for Death Vessel, looked frail, bending quietly over in his chair as he strained to sing into the microphone. Sadly, the show was a minimal affair, as far as attendance goes, and I could hear the bartender talking over the entire set. It wasn’t anything spectacular, as it was just a man and his guitar, but it would have been nice to listen to his voice without the drone of the crowd biting at my ears. 

Death Vessel took to the stage a short bit later, with still a small crowd, which I think was extremely unfortunate. For me, Joel Thibodeau was everything I expected him to be, as far as a performer goes. He was every bit as inexplicable to define as his voice, at least as far as his antics upon the stage went. The one thing I can state with certainty is that he was extremely soft-spoken, barely addressing the audience until the latter part of his set. 

Musically, it was precisely what those who fell in love with the new album, Nothing is Precious Enough for Us, should sound like. The stage set up include up-right bass, featuring Micah Blue Smaldone, minimal percussion and two guitar (occasional ukulele) players. The bass was not overly intrusive with respect to the gentle guitar work, but the deepness furthered the overall aura of the music. And, the amps used for guitars were almost practice amps, which helped define the sound even further, pushing it towards new levels of gentleness. 

Joel’s voice was perfect. It remained as androgynous as it sounds on album, but hearing the vocals live definitely helps associate the music with the man who writes the songs. For me, his voice was so soft that it encouraged the crowd to hang upon every single word, which is precisely what a real musician should do. No one took their eyes off the stage, and you couldn’t help but be taken aback. Thinking back, I feel as if the small crowd actually added to the emotional staging of the show, for it created a unique bond between the audience members and the band, as if they were singing only for us. 

I can’t recall song by song the set list from the show, but I particularly enjoyed “Peninsula” in all its glory. The rendition of “The Widening” had me swaying from side to side as the drummer snapped perfectly to the beat. “Jitterkadie” didn’t sound far off from the album version, which is exactly what I wanted from this show.  

All in all, it was a quiet affair between audience and band. The intimate experience surely brought to life the music of Death Vessel for those that had yet to witness it in person, such as myself. Four dudes on stage, playing gentle songs with such precision, opening up to the world. 

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