It’s tough for a band to stand out these days. Perhaps the indie rock scene is just simply over saturated? For example, Secret Machines, Interpol, Longwave and Ambulance LTD all have what could be easily considered as similar musical characteristics and even influences. To take it a step further, they’re all trying to emerge from the same indie mother ship that is New York City.
Ambulance Vs. Interpol? No way! Ambulance loses in the fame category and perhaps for now, even in the talent category. Is that to say that Ambulance sucks? Not even! In fact, they rule! The question is, is that enough?
Then, for a band like Elefant you have pretty much the same situation. Their music, for the most part, seems to be an attempt to reel in the same audience as The Killers and Franz Ferdinand. The difference with Elefant is that it’s debatable whether they actually suck or not. They definitely don’t quite match up to the same caliber as any of the bands previously mentioned.
So, what is the destiny of these two underdogs? It's tough to say but the Elefant/Ambulance performances in Portland on Friday night gave new perspective on what separates the boys from the men in today’s indie rock scene.
With his parents sitting in the upper V.I.P. section it was obvious that (born and raised in Eugene, Oregon) lead singer Marcus Congleton, was feeling right at home from the start of their set. Ambulance kicked it into gear with “Ancedote”, one of the band's standout tracks on their debut release. From there, they busted into what many consider the best track on the album, “Heavy Lifting”. As great as it was to hear this song live, there was a bit of disappointment here as it didn’t quite hold up to cd/studio version. One of Ambulance’s most obvious and important attributes is their ability to diversify their sound. The tempo varies in a perfect an crucial way throughout their set and Marcus does a great job at fluctuating the tone of his voice, which helps give each song it’s own identity. Despite all of these qualities there was that “can’t quite put my finger on it” boring vibe washing over the crowd. Perhaps it was the crowd’s fault?
What’s the deal with indie rockers anyway? The whole term “indie rocker” is pretty much bullshit. Any crowd that stands there and just nods their heads during a “rocking” set is not worthy of having the word “rocker” for the description of their genre. Why is this crowd so hard to please? Everyone is way too cool for his or her own good. We are going to have to find a way to fit the word “pretentious” somewhere in “indie rocker”. Props to the guy spazzing out in the front row though. Even though you looked like a reject, at least you were actually “rocking”.
Elefant - where to start with these guys? I’m just gonna come right out with it. Get a new lead singer guys! On a scale of 1-10, Diego gets a 3. His voice has zero ability to explore other realms of possibility. Diego didn’t touch one instrument the whole set. His Robert Smith knock off look and stage presence was ok but it overshadowed the only elements worthy of mention, the band. It’s a shame too because the band was “rocking”! Dreamy rhythms and solid percussion are the only saviors for Elefant. The crowd seemed a little more in tune with this set but in Ambulance’s defense, it always seems that the opening band gets screwed on sound and lighting. Plus, at this stage in the evening, everyone has just the right amount of alcohol in them to excuse anyone’s shortcomings.
Is the indie rock scene over saturated? Indeed. How so? Ambulance LTD is a solid band worthy of success but they’ll be lucky to ever reach the same stature as bands such as Secret Machines or Interpol. Most likely, only because the odds are just simply against them. With a sea of bands striving for success there is a new plateau that must be reached. Serious innovation and uniqueness are the only way to stand out. Then you have to ask yourself, why is Ambulance opening for Elefant? There is the question of the day. If you have a good answer that doesn’t involve industry politics, I’m all ears!
Source: Randy Torcom, firstname.lastname@example.org