Cole Porter, Stratford, Scales of Motion, The Programme, Copy Copy
The Pinkeye, Tulsa, Oklahoma
December 28, 2004
When I see a concert, I automatically assume I’m going to review it. Whether I actually sit down to write the review or not is usually decided by my amount of interest in the show. Some concerts lose my interest due to lack of diversity- some suffer from lack of bands (I hate three-band shows)- some shows just don’t book talented bands.
Tuesday, December 28th‘s show at the Pinkeye wasn’t lacking in any of those three qualities, which is why I’m actually looking forward to writing this review. Yes, Cole Porter, Stratford, Scales of Motion, The Programme, and Copy Copy definitely impressed me.
I caught the tail end of Cole Porter’s set- and catching only the end was a good thing. The two songs that I saw were well-done acoustic pop/rock, but the songs sounded vaguely homogenous due to the 4-tracked accompaniment that played with him. If I had heard any more, I might’ve started docking points from his skill level based on sameness. But no, I can’t do that- from what I heard, he was solid in all areas of songwriting.
In striking contrast to Cole Porter’s one-man show, Stratford took the stage next. Now, I want to apologize to Stratford’s lead guitarist before I continue. The lead guitarist knew exactly what he was doing, and pulled off all the guitar skills with ease. Out of all members of this new-wave emo band, he seemed most comfortable doing what he was doing. Now that I have the disclaimer out of the way, this is where the crap begins. The lead singer is in love with being emo: Taking Back Sunday mic swing, emo flail dancing, Suit and mis-tied tie with upturned collar, cliché’d “stand on the speaker, lean over, and scream” technique. It would’ve all been okay if he had the vocal skills to back it up- but unfortunately, the lead singer was bested by the lead guitarist in vocal ability (the two switched instruments for one song). The guy sung better, screamed a LOT better, and just altogether knew his stuff more. Their set was tolerable, but it would’ve been a lot better with better vocals- the leads just crushed all credibility the band had musically built in my mind.
Note: Scales of Motion owns. As a first-time witness of SoM’s sound, I was blown out of the water by their immense, technical indie-rock. The lead singer’s chops were stunning- his tone was unique, yet likable, and his range was impeccable. It was great to hear him sing; but as good as that was, it wasn’t even the focus of the band. No, their focus is on the amazing drum/bass/guitar interplay, which is the most intricate playing I’ve ever seen. They played virtually arrhythmic sections of music with precision and finesse- the drummer played like a jazz drummer on crack, and the bass player (who doubled as vocalist, mind you) had a Rickenbacher jazz bass and the skills to use it. It was truly stunning- a rich, dark, full sound that was challenging, inviting, and technical. I could not get enough of their set, and their departure truly saddened me.
But I had come to see the Programme, as I’ve been trying to catch one of their shows forever. I’d known about this band since they formed- I was a fan of the now defunct emo band Everyday Value, which shares some of the same members. But don’t let that fool you- The Programme is not an emo band, anything resembling an emo band, or even anything near the word emo. The Programme is art-rock, heavy on the rock. Their show consisted of (as best I can count) 13 or 14 movements of the same continuous song- they didn’t even let the audience clap in between movements. Think that this sounds homogenous? Never. The Programme ripped through punk rock, garage rock, arena rock, melodious interludes, hard rock, a dash of metal, and some songs that just defied definition. All without vocals- all without stopping- all without the audience’s jaws ever leaving the ground. This whirlwind of sound was amazingly cohesive, as they kept a unique theme of wide-eyed wonder throughout the entire show. The band put on a good show visually too- adorning their equipment with parasol umbrellas and crowding the stage with equipment, they made the tiny Pinkeye stage seem more like a dusty attic than a rock show until the music started. Then lead guitarist Max Porter took over the show- tilting, whirling, twitching in jittery motion- the man looked like he was about to explode. It was perfect for the music, and only added to the impact of the show. The rest of the band was a tad static, but when they got really into the music, the audience could hear it. It was a truly groundbreaking set in my mind- a concept album, played all the way through. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I urge as many of you as possible to see the Programme. If you like rock in any form, you will be amazed.
Copy Copy rounded out the show with a hardcore set. Copy Copy has three of the same members from Scales of Motion, so the music is technically awesome. Copy copy has the additional quality of being able to bash heads in. The unique thing about Copy Copy is vocal duties: they are shared by the four non-drumming members of the band. Yeah, that’s right- three guitarists and a bassist. They create chaos on the highest level, punctuated by blasts of guitar noise accentuated by group yelling, duo screaming, trio screaming- you name it. I doubt any of the songs hit two minutes- I doubt that there were more than 6 or 7 of them, because the members of Copy Cop flailed around the stage like maniacs in addition to playing hardcore. I was amazed that they were able to keep the technical level of their show going while moving so much. They spent so much energy on their set that all four moving members collapsed onto the floor after saying “we’re Copy Copy, thanks for coming, now go home!” It was a stellar hardcore set- and although they weren’t nearly as amazing as the Programme’s inspired set, they were pretty amazing in their own right. It was definitely a show worth remembering, and I would go so far as to say the Programme puts on the best independent rock show I have ever seen.