February 24th, 2008

February 2008 concert #3: Emilia and Beehive at Neumos

Last Thursday I went to see Beehive at Neumos, with Furniture Girls opening and Emilia headlining. Neumos is a large club for these bands, none of which yet has a large following, so not only was the balcony closed but also half the main space was closed off by red velvet curtains. Although that gave the room a nice intimate feel, the sound system is designed to fill the space, so the sound quality wasn't the best for the show.

As they did the first time I saw them, Furniture Girls started their set with an instrumental jam, this time playing along with the beats being spun by the night's DJ Dezignated Pete. They brought the jam to a close, paused... and started jamming again, as their laptop failed to start playing the first song. Once they got it fixed, they played a few songs... and then the laptop died again. This time, the guitarist kicked off a blues jam and the lead singer improvised lyrics about how sad it was that the laptop had died. Frankly, I found that to be the most entertaining part of the set, a clever and humorous way to deal with technical difficulties. I'm not sure why they don't grab me more; perhaps in time as they develop, they'll hold my interest.

Beehive played a rocking set as always. However, the evening's sound issues affected their set the most. Their first couple songs sounded noisier and rougher than usual, and Alethea's high vocals were barely audible near the stage, seeming to come out of just one tiny speaker in the upper left. When I moved around the room, I found that the best balance was back by the room-dividing curtains. Still, these were minor issues, and overall it sounded okay. As at their Nectar show last month, they played around with the songs, adding extended instrumental intros and codas just for the fun of it. I was pleased that they did the slow "acoustic" introduction to "Outta Here One Day", I'd been wanting to hear that variation again. Also like their Nectar show, they finished with a repeat of "Better Than Lies", urging everyone forward to dance. I'm not keen on the practice of reprising songs in that manner, but presumably their intent is to grow the audience by pushing that song as the catchy single, and it is a good choice for that, so I can't fault them.

Last time I saw Emilia, I felt that her performance was too calculated, too intent on projecting a rockstar image. At this show, she seemed relaxed and natural again, focused on her music and letting her stage presence flow from that. Emilia's voice was strong, and her backing musicians were excellent. I enjoyed a couple of the upbeat songs, notably "Hypnotized", with its breakbeat-jazz fusion sound. However, most of her music, slow to mid-tempo soulful pop, still simply failed to appeal to me. Emilia's very talented and worth checking out for yourself, but she's not for me.

Edit to add photo links. I have four Furniture Girls photos starting here; five Beehive photos starting here; and six Emilia photos starting here.

Next Sunday, March 2, I plan to be at Chop Suey to see Balkan Beat Box, on my sister Andrea's recommendation. I still haven't decided about the other shows in March - Jens Lekman at Neumos on the 25th, Jose Gonzalez at the Triple Door on the 29th and 30th, or X at the Showbox on the 30th (all ages) and 31st (21+) - they're all shows that I'd rather decide on as a spontaneous thing, but that I know I'll have to get tickets in advance if I actually want to attend. I guess I still have another week or two at least before the X shows sell out...