Earth at The Marquis Theater, 11/21/12
Tom Murphy The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact last night at the Marquis Theater
The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact opened the show and ran through a fairly continuous stream of music. In the beginning, before most of the sounds were introduced and manipulated, the four guys were turning knobs and otherwise entering the raw guitar, bass and other noise that is used to generate an atmosphere that flows through like a circular current that each of the members of the band tweaks with effects in a chain controlled through one source.
The band played some new material as well as older numbers like the post-rock gone even more abstract and psychedelic "Decay," as well as "Savage Fucking Garden," with its percussive sound and pretty synth sequence treated so all the edges of the music are blurred out in favor of a soft, comforting haze of hypnotically-repeated melody. The band even played material from its latest album, My Hand Holding a Still Photograph of the Same Scene, with "Holdrakèta" and its vibrating intonation at the beginning of the song flowing seamlessly into a sea of samples of echoing voices and birds.
Tyler and Carson Pelo made sounds into microphones during another song that became the sound of an orchestra of frogs in a swap making sounds in staggered, scattered unison. Although there wasn't much movement on stage except for Carson Pelo bobbing his head like he was serving as a DJ part of the rest of the music, it was riveting and soothing and brightly gorgeous.
Tom Murphy Don McGreevy of Stebmo at the Marquis Theater
Stebmo, a duo comprised of Don McGreevy and Steve Moore, followed. The former played his bass and sat in a chair while the latter played both his Hammond and his trombone. Musically, it was this kind of, for lack of a better term, smooth free jazz. Some time after "Perfect Happiness," Moore said, "We're Stebmo, and we're playing in the middle of the sandwich of Kevin Costner and Earth and between those people and you. Sorry about that." "Those people" were all the people at the bar talking so loudly it was louder than the band at its loudest. But Moore was cool about all of it, and he chuckled any displeasure off and got back to playing the music.
The kind of experimental lounge jazz these two guys played sounded like the kind of thing Steely Dan would have listened to for inspiration before writing the material for Aja. The final song of the Stebmo set was called "Work," and Moore told us it was dedicated to the concept of the one minute work week -- surely an aspiration many of us can get behind.
Tom Murphy Steve Moore of Stebmo at The Marquis Theater
Personal Bias: I've been wanting to see Earth for years, and never thought the opportunity would happen without traveling far away.
Random Detail: Throughout the show, the band seemed pleasantly surprised that the audience was as into the show as it was. Don McGreevy even said to his bandmates off microphone, "Great crowd!"
By the Way: Earth had this beautiful image that looked like a plate out of an illustrated book of mythology rendered as a drawing in white on a green shirt. But it was close to the end of the tour and the band only had smalls left -- in case you're in the next city and are thinking of buying a shirt.