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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Bear Chronicles

Credit goes to fellow friend/blogger Steve as he gave me the heads-up on last night's show at the Cavern featuring February Chorus, Green River Ordinance and Oliver Future. All three bands have ties to my previous life as a Fort Worth resident, so last night's show was a mini-reunion of sorts.

February Chorus features Brandon Lea from Flickerstick, a band that I've always liked but have never seen live. The band also features a former bandmate of mine named Taylor (we once pulled double-duty as the rhythm section for the 11:30s and Voigt) and Jordan formerly of the Audiophiles (a band that shared stages with the 11:30s and Voigt). I had not seen these guys for at least three years, so it was good to check in with what they've been up to.

I don't know if February Chorus is a side-project or not, but judging by what I saw, I'm hoping that they're not. I like Brandon's vocals, so I was pretty set in that department. But what sold me were the shoegazer guitars complete with a violin drenched with echoey effects. Definitely a band I hope to see again.

When I saw Green River Ordinance four years ago, their songs had a bouncy groove not far removed from what Dave Matthews Band does. What I saw last night had none of that groove, but what remained (and what I really enjoyed about them when I last saw them) was their sense of melody. Yes, these songs are polished, but the strong hooks didn't get rubbed out in the process.

I know the guys in GRO want to "make it" in the music industry, but they have a lot of right things going for them that say they could definitely have a go at it. Their songs may be suited for soundtracks to those teen/young adult dramas you see on the former WB (now the CW), but that doesn't mean this stuff is bad at all. Five nice guys playing poppy, clean-sounding guitar rock with some atmospheric guitar leads to boot.

Oliver Future is a band that I shared a stage with once at the Aardvark in Fort Worth. From what I remember of their set, their sound was a very peculiar Austin sound; it had that kind of vibe found in a number of Austin's off-kilter rock bands. I'm talking ragged vocals, big beats and layered guitars. When I heard one of their CDs a year later, it sounded like The Bends-era Radiohead and not in a good way. When I heard that Jordan Richardson, a fellow friend who played in a couple of Fort Worth bands I dug, was now their drummer, I was curious. When I got word that their material was more dancey, I started to cringe. Sounding like coattail-riders of what hipsters have dug in the last few years, I wasn't so sure about what I was going to see last night.

Yes, there were moments that made tap my foot to a disco-like beat, but this was definitely not a post-punk/disco retread. As a matter of fact, I still don't really understand what I saw. I didn't hate what I saw or heard, but I just don't know how I could describe this. Even though the band moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, they have not lost their weirdness. The ragged, dramatic vocals are still there and there is still some traces of Bends-era Radiohead in the guitars. They've definitely been honing their act as they've been writing and recording steadily for the last few years. I hear a new record is coming out soon.

As someone who visits Fort Worth less and less these days, it was cool to see all these people from there play in a spot that I consider my home turf. As much as I enjoyed living in Fort Worth, I'm much happier living in Dallas. Though the Fort Worth vs. Dallas rivalry continues to plague us, at least some of Fort Worth's better bands made the 35-minute trek across I-30 last night.

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