As my alarm sounded (too) early on Saturday morning, I was at least comforted by the fact that the day would be full of music. The evening would bring The Vines/The Music/Youth Group, while earlier in the day I would be treated to Live 105 Studio Sessions from The Vines and The Music at the Sony Metreon. An interesting day, indeed, awaited, if I could just get out of bed...
Live 105 had previously held two Studio Sessions at the new studio space at the Metreon, a high tech entertainment center in downtown San Francisco, one from Flaming Lips and another Valentine weekend set from Interpol. I had not been able to attend either and I was highly impressed by the new space. Configured like a small movie theater, with rows of high-backed benches and three large projection screens, the space was much different than I expected. And the sound was immaculate. The Music took the floor first, playing songs from their excellent self-titled debut. First single "Take The Long Road And Walk It" led off the four-song set, divided into 2-song/question & answer/2-song segments. Also unveiled for the intimate, winners-only audience were "Human," "The People" and one of the Leeds quartet's signature groovespacerock instrumentals. The Music sounded HUGE, their sound expanding into the space, bobbing all the heads and wowing the uninitiated. Their tour mates and close friends, The Vines
The night time show was generally more of the same, although, thankfully, with longer sets, at the legendary Fillmore theatre. Aussies Youth Group led off the festivities, and while I had never heard of this pop/rock act from Canberra previously, I am now interested in checking out their recordings, as their songs were hook-filled and oozing quality. The Music used the larger stage and louder sound system to their full advantage. The larger space allowed frontman Robert Harvey the space to perform his freeform shamanistic groove dancing and the added decibels allowed the band to further expand their sound. Although they look like a music industry super group fronted by Geddy Lee and backed by Paul Westerberg, DreamWorks' Matt Smith and Davy Jones of The Monkees, they rock like full-on guitar wielding banshees. Their sonic melange of Verve , The Stone Roses and Led Zeppelin continued to win over the audience, as they fired through much of their album. "Take The Long Road" and "Human" were again unveiled, but added to the 45-minute set were "Float", "Disco," "Getaway" "The Dance" and epic instrumental set closer, "The Walls Get Smaller." With the end of each song, the applause and cheers got louder and louder, the youngsters having clearly impressed the throng of primarily Vines fans. This groundswell of support for this obviously talented live act can only be a good thing and here's to it snowballing across the country.
Having gone from playing at the 600-capacity Slim's to the much larger Fillmore, things have been (mostly) good this year for The Vines. "Get Free" was a staple on modern rock radio and Craig's oft-covered eccentricities gave the media something to cover, and cover often. Live, however, the band is still lacking a certain something. They have great songs and some of them translate great live ("Ms. Jackson,:" "Get Free," "Mary Jane" "Highly Evolved"), just to name a few of the standout live renditions. However, sometimes the sound is a bit thin and could use to be fleshed out a bit, especially after taking the stage after the blazing set by The Music. One added bonus, however, was that a few more new tracks were unveiled. Most were in the "Mary Jane"/"Autumn Shade" Beatles-esque territory, but the new, sadly name-unknown track they closed the show with, was as incendiary as anything else they have written and shows that The Vines have more than a few remaining tricks up their sleeve.