In my short time of seeing shows at the Cavern, I have seen two-piece bands (ie, the Lord Henry) all the way up to six-piece bands (ie, SOUND team and Pegasus Now). After last night, I can now say that I have seen eight- and nine-piece bands play on the Cavern's tiny stage.
Austin's Golden Bear and the Channel came into town to spread some good tunes for us Dallas folks. I didn't get to see all of Last Picture Show and Belafonte, so I can't really describe what I saw. I was there to see Golden Bear and the Channel as they play a friendly mix of layered chamber pop without feeling like kids' music.
With eight members onstage, there wasn't much room for moving around during Golden Bear's set. Three guitars, one bass, one rather large vibraphone, one regular-sized drumset, a saxophone and two keyboards stacked on top of each other is really pushing how much you put into the Cavern's space. Josh was doing sound and gave every instrument enough volume to hear them all without over-powering (though the sax sounded a little too loud from where I was standing, but that's no reason to say that was a major drawback).
The sound on Golden Bear's self-titled album is rather hazy and psychedelic, so I wasn't expecting to hear that live. Well, I didn't, but what I like about their songs are the hooks, especially on songs like "Ten Thousand Orchestras." The band was understandably cramped onstage, but by the middle of the set, they were moving around. All the while I'm watching them, I kept thinking of seeing them in a larger venue, like the Backyard or Stubb's outside. Their sound is big, so I hope they do get to play bigger places that accommodate this.
With the Channel, they had nine people playing (seven of them were playing in Golden Bear), but the set felt a little more fun. Golden Bear kept getting better with every song they played, but the Channel was fun the whole time. More bouncy and country-fied than Golden Bear, this felt like two distinctly different bands, but that was fine by me. Despite the line-up similarities, they put on some different vibes that were great and engaging.
The good thing about this show was that a decent amount of people came out despite the lack of "known" names on the bill. I've seen the Cavern be filled to the brim and completely empty on prime weekend nights regardless of who was playing. Yes, I know more people go out to bars to hang out and drink than see bands, but I always wonder why the massive fluxuation. Sure, a band like SOUND team may attract more than the bar's usual crowd, but what about the bands that don't get that kind of publicity? I'd like to think that every major bar in town has a regular crowd, but you never know. Regardless, I had fun and that's why I go out to shows so often. I can only handle so much reading, writing and dog walking at home before I go nuts.