Metroscene plays Brit-pop, that's no secret. Their repertoire harkens back to the days of The Clash on up to their favorite band to cover - Pulp (they learned and preformed Pulp's "Disco 2000" almost better than the original on New Year's). Their first CD/EP Weekenders is receiving more accolades than most bands would ever hope to see on their first recording attempt. After meeting singer John Phillips at a local club, he sent me their CD (see my CD review of Weekenders). I loved it on first listen. Its high quality, liquid cool Brit pop alright. Its original, its catchy, and it'll stay bemusedly stuck in your head (although I'm not sure me singing "Tartan skirt" at the office is exactly good for job security).
So the CD is good, but there's a rumor floating around that these guys are phenomenal to watch live. Not just good - but astounding. So these cool sounds are more than just the product of slick production and nice packaging? I'm too curious to let this one slide past me so the next time they play I head on over to The Cotton Club to see just what it is about Metroscene that has all of Atlanta talking.
The two opening bands were run-of-the-mill radio pop-rock. They had their occasional good points but for the most part I was bored to tears as were many of the patrons there that night if their yawns and non-attention to the stage might have indicated. Finally Metroscene was up and I had moved to the center of the floor in front of the stage in order to get some pictures - or so that was my plan. Before they could step up to the mics, the floor was rushed by people applauding and yelling. I know every band has their little group of devotees that show up at every show, but they couldn't have THIS many, I thought. Suddenly, I felt like I was being left out of a private conversation. For the first time that I can remember, I had to fight my way to the front of a stage to take pictures at a local show.
From the first note of this concert til the last, it was clear that these guys are talented beyond the normal scope. They played like pros. They played like a well-oiled machine. That polished sound you hear on the CD? That has nothing to do with post-production programing or mixing. It comes out that clean, that accurate LIVE. Never have I heard a band sound so good on stage.
Not only was the sound good and 100% on, their stage presence, infused by their boyish smiles and attitudes, seemed to just seep the crowd in enthusiasm. They were having a blast on stage and that transferred and drove the emotions of the crowd until I was almost lost in a sea of jumping bodies. People sung along and shouted the choruses at the top of their lungs . This was madness. After a 12-set concert, the band, all sweaty and smiling bade the crowd good night and walked off stage.
And then the most amazing thing happened. The crowd rallied, cheered, stomped and demanded more.
I still cannot get over that. An encore - at a local show. I smiled, I laughed. I had been so disappointed in the lack of local support for bands lately, and here these people were proving me wrong in the biggest way.
So the band, looking a bit surprised, came back out and treated us to an encore. John Phillips, tired but flashing a grateful grin, asked the audience to help him sing the next two songs because his voice was just about done in. They played a rousing version of "Disco 2000" by Pulp and dedicated it to Michael Overstreet of DeadAir for all his help getting them heard on 88.5FM and then went on to cover "Debaser" by the Pixies. And geezus the crowd went wild dancing and singing. I've never seen anything like it at a local show and it was hard not to get swept up in their enthusiasm. After is was over with and the harsh lights snapped back on I felt like I had been in the twilight zone - a place where the band actually sounds as good (or better) than they do on their CD and the crowd actually appreciates them. Weird.
The Modern Decline
My Darkest Star
"Disco 2000" By Pulp
"Debaser" by the Pixies
J High - bass
Allen King - guitars
John Phillips- vocals and guitars
Kevin Redd- drums
Weekenders EP can be ordered online through amazon.com
Mp3 site: www.mp3.com/metroscene
Day Concert Review-
DARKNESS THROUGH THE LIGHT OF DAY
~by guest-writer Claudia Knudson
The first time I saw Margot Day perform was in Santa Barbara at The Haven. I had not been to The Haven before, and had no idea what to expect from this performance. I was intrigued by The Haven's decor. Darkly draped in what appeared to be rich red and black velvets and taffeta, my dramatic senses were amusingly peaked as I entered the club. It was a warm and welcoming ambiance. My fellow patrons dressed the part in various shades of black, each unique, deliberate, and attractive. Candles were placed appropriately on the stage as would befit a Romanian altar. At the bar amongst the bottles of spirits was a large stuffed raven, frozen at take off. All in all I felt prepared for a formidable performance.
Margot Day has a inescapable presence, capturing the audience with her long magenta curls veiling her milky white skin, lending to a romantic's vision of a mermaid. Her petite form embraced by a dark cloak revealing a purple bodice, skirt, and legs. The music then began. The electric and percussive melodies started a pulse that seemed to be pulling something up out of the ground -- and then Day began singing. She started off in a kneeling position... as if her voice came from a well deep within her body, Day's voice began a steady chant, low in pitch. Gradually her voice began to rise in pitch as did her body. It was as if she was tapping into the energy in the room and pulling it up inside her. It was a courageous and original feat. The song was Wonderlust, and I suppose that was the reason the rest of us were there. To satiate a longing desire to be surprised by something curious, daring, and sensual. Day continued the evening with various songs ranging from Pan-like flute repertoires to techno banshee. Each song had its own individual sound and performance making this a unique theatrical event.
Margot Day and the musicians are all professionals, and have been playing music since their childhood. It was in New York City where Margot Day made her first mark. Back in the days when the dark-clad Goth movement was just taking flight, Day was in a band called The Plague. Her music was one of the first original old school movements of Goth, in the eighties. Being part of the genesis of the Goth movement has given Day the artistic freedom to remain independent of any need for pigeon holing. She prefers this flexibility as she is then able to embrace and create as the inspiration moves her, while remaining a part of the whole.
Day comes from a family of artists who instilled in her the importance of practice and exercise. This isn't the begrudging beating over the brow type of discipline, but rather the cultivation of the inner realms of creativity. Day describes it as, "a collective consciousness that we can each tap into. A life-force energy that has to do with the evolution of mankind. When I create I channel into this energy and allow for that which is to be born or exist, to come forth. This is where the lyrics and melody come from. They usually come forth as a unit. When they don't, I have to pull them out and find out how they must be put back together. This can be painful and exhausting, but very trippy and energizing."
Day has worked with the likes of Adam Yauch of The Beastie Boys, and Jim Thirwell, to name a few.
Kurtis Knight plays keyboards using organic and electronic samples,and sings back up vocals. Knight's head is shaved on either side, leaving it long down the middle, short braids with small skull relics tie part of it together, his nose and belly button were pierced before it became a fashion, his nails are painted black, and occasionally he shaves his eyebrows.
There is no way of avoiding the fact that Knight would be deemed the "pretty boy" (in his rugged way) member of the group would he not despise the category. I asked Knight about light and dark as expressed through music.
"There is a rebirth through destruction, the rise and fall. So many people are into the creativity of things that they lose sight of the importance of destruction, death. It's like a forest fire that burns through a forest, although it destroys animal life it is necessary to allow for new growth. Goth isn't all about death and darkness -- it's about the whole cycle of life -- the reason we are. Margot Day's music represents the middle where both sides can meet -- the light and the dark."
Paul Sutherland plays percussion. A tall man with shaven head. An attractive man who looks like a live version of a Roman statue, Sutherland represents the sage. Also a band member of This Ascension, Sutherland is enjoying the chance to add a dynamic live percussive element to Margot Day's show. He has traveled extensively throughout South America, North Africa, and Europe studying the various cultures. Sutherland majored in Philosophy at UCSB he says "where philosophy is the quest for truth, music transcends truth and operates outside the constraints of logic..."
Mike Watson plays the guitar. He is what Margot terms "the trump card, the wild card." Tall, slim, long black hair, with dark and haunting eyes. The enigma wrapped in mystery. He believes that Classical, Jazz and the Blues have already been done by masters, while Goth and Industrial music are still open. Mike Watson works the guitar in different ways. From using distortion and props(a toy electronic gun), to playing the inside wires of the instrument. Watson has done the tour thing with various famous bands. He enjoys playing with Margot Day et all, and has fun with the music, appreciating the fact that the members aren't into the hard core drug scene as the music industry is well known for. He believes that psychosis is a must to play music and that there's no sense in denying that fact.
I asked Watson what he would like to say about playing with Margot Day, his response "She should let me light more things on fire. She has the habit of not letting me burn the venues down." At The Halloween Show opening for Das Ich, during the song "They Burned the Witch", Watson blew fire from his mouth and caught the stage on fire!
Margot Day has been embraced here in Santa Barbara and her music is heard globally. The recently released SACRED! cd is getting national and international attention on the airwaves, the web, clubs and the press. For greater illumination you might visit Day's website http://www.MargotDay.com
871 Via Abajo
Santa Barbara, CA 93110 USA