Show Review: Islands @ The Parish (7/6)

Many people were over at La Zona Rosa last night grooving to Edward Sharpe, and I get the attraction–there are some good tunes there.  But, for me, it came down to choosing the guy from the Unicorns, not the guy from IMA ROBOT (Edward).  On top of that, I have to admit that its hard to dislike anything Islands do.  Follow the jump for the full review and fancy photos.

Opening band Steel Phantoms were surprisingly stellar.  They reminded me of The Lovely Feathers, blending perfectly elements of dance and punk.  Not sure exactly how I feel about singer Yos at this point, but when they brought out feuding guitars, I can admit that my feet were tapping more than I expected.  Guitarist Jesse Newkirk definitely enjoys his role, as his energy was phenomenal, giving the audience a bit of a show within a show as he furiously ripped up that guitar.  On top of that, solid drumming never hurts a band, and Aaron sure is a solid man behind that kit.

For me, my WTF moment of the evening came when Active Child took to the stage.  I know they’ve gotten some hype, but the few tracks I had listened to reminded me of more operatic chill-wave, so I, as a non-chill-wave fan, ignored it.  Seriously, I still can’t explain what I saw, as I was confronted by a man with an electronic harp, and a man playing bass.  Musically, I just didn’t get it, and I don’t think its my taste, but you have to give it up to singer Pat Grossi.  His vocals are ridiculous, and there is no way you can discredit that.  I will say that as he lowered the pitch a bit, when the band covered “Ceremony” by New Order, they did start to win me over a bit.  Using the guitar in place of the harp definitely changed things up for me, and I could easily see myself loving this band if they went in that direction.

And around 11 Islands took to the stage in all white, save for one black bedazzled shirt.  They opened up the set with a solid does from their recent effort Vapours.  Surprisingly, the live sound spent more focus on the melodies and the guitar, rather than on the electronic fusion that dominates the record itself–which made me really happy.  You got hits like “Vapours” and “No You Don’t” as Nic Diamonds danced about the stage, albeit a bit indifferent to the crowd.  The rendition of  “Tender Torture” really came off great live, mostly due to the fact that everyone loves coconuts.

As the band went through the set, they treated us to a couple of new songs.  The new songs had a bit of a sprawling sound, a lot less angular than the band’s current work, but I mean you can’t take anything away from Nic.  Seriously, his quirkiness in writing lyrics, his vocals and guitar playing will always be one of my favorite things.  You never grow tired of such things, and at The Parish, he sounded great.  Of course, they also have a killer back catalogue, and we were treated to such joys as “The Arm” and “Creeper” before getting hits from Return to the Sea like “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” and “Where Theres a Will, Theres a Whalebone.”  Closing out the set was a powerful rock version of “Swans, ” and then they were gone.

But wait. They came back. They had two more hits to play.  They ran through “Switched On” and “Rough Gem” as the encore, which seemed to make everyone’s night. Regardless of whether or not Nic seemed to be super into it or not (he wasn’t too happy last night methinks), the band had a great show, and made me realize that I will never grow tired of listening to this band. Islands are Forever.

Pictures are provided by the lovely Mary Rehak.  Say hi to her on flickr.


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