June 30th, 2008

June 2008 concert 2: Mono In VCF at Neumos

Two Saturdays ago, on the 21st, I went to see Mono In VCF at Neumos. They headlined a bill that included Ivan & Alyosha and The Purrs, as well as a fourth band.

The listed opening act was The Major Cities, but I'm not sure that was who actually played, as judging from that page The Major Cities is a solo artist project, while the band that played was a synthpop quartet. Unfortunately I came in late, about halfway through the opener's set, and I didn't catch their name when they mentioned it at the end, although it seemed to be something other than "The Major Cities". Normally I just wouldn't bother to discuss them at all, since I'm not sure who they are, but I liked them quite a bit - they had a very fun New Romantics style that made me smile, and I'd love to hear more. Maybe I'll get lucky and see them again soon.

The Purrs are a straightforward pop-rock quartet, including bass and lead vocals, guitar and backing vocals, guitar, and drums. They played a solid if mostly uninspired set of '90s-style alternative rock. I was reminded a lot of Buffalo Tom, a band that's made some good tunes but has never quite hooked me as a fan. I did recognize a couple songs in the set from airplay on KEXP, "She's Got Chemicals" and "Miles Away", both of which were catchier than the rest of the set. "Miles Away" in particular has a great lead guitar line and demonstrates that the band's capable of writing a good pop tune, but overall to me they felt like a fine second-tier band - one that's enjoyable enough to hear on the radio or catch by chance at a show, not one that's going to inspire a lot of people to come out to a show.

Ivan & Alyosha, I have to say, were less inspiring than The Purrs. Celebrating the release of their latest CD The Verse, The Chorus, the duo (neither of whom are named Ivan or Alyosha) on bass and keyboards appeared with a backing foursome on acoustic guitar, keyboard and guitar, guitar, and drums. Their music was mostly mid-tempo bittersweet pop-rock, in the vein of Crowded House. It was decent but never really held my attention.

Mono In VCF came as a five-piece for this show, with producer Martin Feveyear on keyboard joining the regular band lineup of Kim Miller (vocals), Hunter Lea (guitar, synth & organ, vocals), Jordan Luckman (bass guitar), and Jason Falk (drums). I found this show less enjoyable than the previous two I've seen, through no fault of the band - the crowd was very noisy and chatty throughout the set, and despite her powerful voice Miller's vocals were a little lost up front as the main speakers are set up high to project out into the room. They played a new song, which was good, but then they did not play an encore, which was disappointing. Though there's not a bad song on their debut album and it's great to hear them live, they still could use some more material soon just to keep shows interesting. Also, Miller could use a tambourine or other light percussion instrument for the extended instrumental sections, as she seems a bit lost simply stepping back and tapping the beat with her foot like she currently does. Still, these minor details don't prevent me from recommending that you catch Mono In VCF live whenever you can. In fact, they're next playing a late (11 PM) show at The Triple Door on Saturday July 19th for just $10, and if I hadn't just accepted a party invitation for that night, I'd be there, as I still think The Triple Door is the most suitable place for their music.

I have a couple photos apiece for the opening band, The Purrs, and three for Ivan & Alyosha, starting here. Unfortunately the lighting was so dim for Mono In VCF that most of my photos were not worth saving, and the couple I might have considered were ruined by having the head of the person in front of me looming large.