Live Review: Eagle*Seagull @ Memories 8/25/06
I don’t usually talk about the venue of where a band plays, but indulge me on this one because I’d never heard of Memories in the five years I’ve been living in Chicago and steadily attending shows. It’s located on the NW side of the city around 4100 North Cicero and is, literally, a neighborhood bar. For every negative thing was an equally random positive thing. It’s regulars were the opposites of hipsters. Behind the bar (stocked with only a couple of selections of beer) was a list of people who were no longer allowed in the club, which included two previous bartenders. (It sort of begs the question, “What exactly does one have to do to get kicked out?”) There was no soap in the women’s bathroom but instead a giant framed film poster of Magnolia (which, of course, is one of the best films of all time). It’s smoke-inhalation-poor-light-atmosphere made the wait almost unbearable. Yet, the house music between band sets was perhaps the best mix of pivotal punk rock music I’ve heard in this city including songs from X, The Clash, The Ramones, The Germs, and more. Eagle*Seagull is a seven piece band hailing from Lincoln Nebraska. Although their self titled record was released on the Paper Garden Records label, they do share some similarities in terms of sound with other bands from the Nebraska area on Saddle Creek. I think in some ways it would be wrong to categorize their music as “emo,” but mainly because that genre has gotten a bad wrap as of late. (At one point, it may have meant more expressive and emotional but people now tend to dismiss it as whiny white boy music from my experience.) It would be accurate to say that the vocals of Eli Mardock are often pained and visually intense, with a strong resemblance to Robert Smith of The Cure. “Your beauty is a knife I turn on my throat” is one glaring example and their album is perhaps a touch more emotional than the average indie rock fare. Simultaneously, you sense a real layered sound, between the guitar and keyboards especially. In addition, Britt Hayes is an especially skilled drummer with a great sense of how to make even the quirkier rhythms work. Live, their forty minute set seemed to go by way too fast. Highlights included “Photograph,” “Your Beauty is a Knife I Turn On My Throat” and, at the very beginning of the set, “It’s So Sexy.” Many of the songs were sped up a bit and even the more emotional songs came off as catchy and dance music for those who like post- pop. The violin playing of Carrie Butler added a real special touch to the songs as well. As an additional treat, they played a brand new song that began with a dreamy opening and sped up with increasing momentum featuring the lovely female vocals of Carrie Butler. You can hear their songs by visiting their Myspace page. Also, check out the side project of guitarist and backup vocalist Austin Skiles called Bright Calm Blue if you’re looking for a harsher sound more reminiscent of Cursive or The Blood Brothers.