It is early, a day and a half later and I’m listening to some acoustic Twilight Sad while I type this. We managed to get in two shows at two different venues Thursday night. Haven’t had a Scottish band in town since November 11th and they decide to show up on the same night. Good fortune and our perfectly executed plan allowed us to see both. In some respects, the night was about expectations.
Twilight Sad – at the Independent for the 3rd time – to be honest the first two experiences were not as good as I had hoped they would be. I really wish it would have been at another venue, so that I could remove that factor. To put it most simply, the vocals, more often than not, seemed buried too deep in the mix. Considering how integral these are to Twilight Sad’s overall sound, it just leaves me perplexed as to why this has been the case all three times.
Frustrations aside, I’d go again. I feel that I got a better sense of the band. I’ve always felt that what they are trying to convey in their live sound is a lot more difficult to execute than you might think. I was closer to the stage this time and I noticed that there is a heartfelt and genuine quality, and even a certain charm, to James’s vocal intensity. From afar this is easy to miss. Although I generally prefer my singers with a guitar in their idle hands, it is very clear that the vocals are as much an instrument as any used by the other four people on stage.
I liked the new keyboard emphasis. I still wish there was more of a dynamic range in both the synth sounds and the guitar. When it got quieter the vocals soared. The thing is, as anyone that has seen them live can attest to, it doesn’t get quiet very often. This is, of course, me placing my expectations on what I want my live experience to be on top of what really transpired. I could be wrong, because we had to duck out a little early, no acoustic guitar was brought on stage for a change of pace. It would be correctly pointed out that this wouldn’t have matched the dynamic of the live show at all. Once again, it is just a fan wrestling with his own expectations.
Waking up the next day, as I got in the car to go to work, there was a Twilight Sad tune in my head before I turned on the radio. For me, that is the proof that I did enjoy the show.
We saw Twin Atlantic at the Rickshaw Stop. It should be noted that the last Scottish act we saw there was Biffy Clyro. I think you can pretty much surmise the overall reaction knowing this. When most of the incredibly short set (not even 40 minutes) was spent reminiscing and marveling how close to Biffy we had been you know we were underwhelmed. Of course, we didn’t expect not to be. Rock and Roll live has a tremendous leveling effect. I did genuinely enjoy listening to ‘You’re turning into John Wayne’ and ‘Yes I was drunk’, the rest was remarkably ordinary. The parts I did like were a little too ‘Biffy-lite’. I don’t think my expectations need changing. We primarily went because we felt that we should. Pulling it off was reward in itself. And yet this morning there is that Twin Atlantic tune in my head ….
All in all, a good glasGOwest night out; my only regret was that I didn’t buy the poster. I should have. Perhaps waving it at the Twin Atlantic show might even have been satisfying.
and thanks to Mark for putting up with us at the merch table.