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Impressive Indie-rock

Monday, September 9, 2006
Kunek/The Uglysuit
The Opolis, Norman, OK

I was a little bit heartbroken when I heard that Corban Eldra broke up- they were on my top 5 of “Bands that will make it if they stick around”. As is the case with many bands who make that list, they just didn’t stick around.

I was cautiously optimistic when I heard that many of the members of CE had regrouped as The Uglysuit. Having been admonished by members of Corban Eldra to see Kunek play, I thought it a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and see both the famed Kunek and the hopefully great Uglysuit.

The Uglysuit played first, and although I knew that the members had retained a little bit of the Corban Eldra style, I was not expecting what I heard. From beginning to end, it sounded like Corban Eldra had added some indie-pop elements into their sound. Seeing as they were already amazing, this was an incredible development.

Their sound takes the form of epic indie-rock that starts small and usually crescendos to a full-out, head-banging slab of intricate, heavy, loud indie-rock. With six members on stage, this is not difficult to pull off. But after they got done with the huge, beautiful instrumental breaks, a charming, quirky keyboard would lead the indie-pop charge as melodies broke through that were hummable, lovable, and undeniable. Their final song “Iceland” was a fantastic example- setting the entire audience in an upbeat, smiling, dancy mood. I can safely say that as incredible as Corban Eldra was, The Uglysuit is just as amazing and more. I can’t wait to see them grow- after all, this was only their third show.

After an extremely long set-up, Kunek finally pronounced themselves ready to go. But when you have upwards of 20 instruments (if you count each vocalist as an instrument) to set up, it should take a while. Just watching them set up set a buzz through the audience- clarinet, harmonica, three keyboards, two acoustic guitars, cello, violin, bass guitar, electric guitar, and many, many more instruments got mic’ed and soundchecked. Once they began to play, their talent became undeniable. Comparing Kunek to Coldplay would be easy but wrong- each song that Kunek played had much more variation, instrumentation, intricacy, and sheer beauty than Coldplay could ever command. But yes, the keyboards were the primary instruments, and the songs were generally melancholy, sweeping, and beautiful. The lead singer has a beautiful voice that shone through above the compositions (because I feel bad calling what Kunek plays ‘songs’) and generally tied everything together.

Their show wasn’t all sound, though. They had lights set up that cast a soft blue and orange glow over everything, only expounding upon the mystic, mellow feel to the room. Each song had something unique to offer, whether it be a harmonica intro, a clarinet solo, or two guitars playing off each other. Kunek’s set was mesmerizing and unlike anything I had ever seen in such a small venue- the power and presence of their music seemed to beg for a bigger hall, a bigger audience, and a bigger response. Kunek is definitely destined for big things, if [i]they[/i] can just stick around.

Even though the concert was relatively short with just two bands, they both played impressive sets and made a profound impact. I look forward to seeing both of these bands again- hopefully in a larger setting than the Opolis.

-Stephen Carradini