Small Black at Rhinoceropolis, 11/13/10

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy
Small Black

With Class Actress • Pictureplane • Vitamins
11.13.10 | Rhinoceropolis

This was a grittier than ever version of Vitamins. On the first song, it was obvious that someone had triggered a sample or a loop or something generating electronic sounds behind the band. Either way, it filled in some of the sparse melodies in just the right places with the appropriate sonic coloring. If the songs that this band wrote for Songs for Stem Cells were dark, the newer material seems noteworthy for its bright, crisp sound like the music is reaching out toward broad vistas.

Tom Murphy

At points, the band veered from its proven ability with tuneful pop songs into cacophanous noise sculpted by inventive and unexpected rhythmic turns. At the end, Vitamins played a brand new song the group seemed hesitant to perform. Without bass and just two guitars, drums, vocals and organ and in the middle section, it was as though most of the instrumentation got quiet while the organ haunted the edges of the song.

With just two synths, one a Moog, the duo of Class Actress led by Elizabeth Harper -- especially with Harper's dance moves -- would have made anyone cognizant of music in the early to mid '80s check what year it was. Not that this band didn't have compelling and fun music, but it's vibe was not unlike that of Yaz -- especially live.

Tom Murphy
Class Actress

Thick low end and soothingly melodic harmonies coupled with Harper's smooth and confident voice (not nearly as low as that of Allison Moyet), and the bouncy, echoing notes were as hypnotic as they were catchy. For the final song, the bassist from Small Black joined in for a song that recalled "Age of Consent" by New Order, only more breezy and free-wheeling. Something about the music of this band was really transporting and haunting while also being warm and comforting -- a nice trick you don't often see or hear.

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