(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Concert review - Dwarf Planets

19 September 2009 (Waterloo Ice House, Louisville CO)
Listening to Dwarf Planets online, they come across as an eclectic, jazzy jam band. Maybe a little bit like String Cheese Incident, but certainly worth the drive down to Louisville. As it turns out, they were less interesting than I had hoped.

At 8:45, they were still serving dinner at the Waterloo Ice House and tables crowded the stage. This didn't change once the Dwarf Planets took the stage. It was a low-key scene: the musicians were serious about playing and didn't move around much. Similarly, the audience kept to their seats. Eventually, a table opened up and we were able to get a bit closer.

The sound mix in this long skinny room was miserable. The vocals were muddy and hard to distinguish. It was easy to hear one of the guitars, the bass, and the drums. The other instruments (violin, guitar, and mandolin) were overpowered and hard to hear. The stage was tiny and crowded. I wish they had sounded this good.

In general, the songs weren't bad. Musically, they were eclectic: moving from a ska beat on one song to poppy Americana, then to a sort of South African groove. The violin and mandolin solos were jazzy, when they could be heard. The band claimed that most of the songs were originals, but they seemed fairly derivative. For example the song Suddenly It's Over was a gypsy jazz groove straight from Gogol Bordello. Stew Bailey tried to channel Eugene Hütz, but lacked the wild energy required. Suddenly It's Over had elements of Illumination and Ultimate.

Other songs captured some Grateful Dead vibe, a taste if Iko Iko, and Steely Dan's Do It Again. This had a shotgun effect that robbed the sets of continuity. They're competent players and I'm sure I'd have liked them better with a decent mix, but this show was missing the spark of originality and energy that an audience deserves from live music.

Avery IPA was the drink of the night and it stood up much better than the band.

More pictures on my Flickr.

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