Last night The Starlight Mints played the outdoor stage at the Mohawk to a crowd of roughly two hundred. The opening acts were The Separation and Low Line Caller. The Separation are from Norman Oklahoma, like the Mints, and opened the show with their straight forward indie rock set. Next was the very impressive Low Line Caller, which was named by the Austin Chronicle as one of ten Austin bands to watch in 2007. The band started out with two instrumentals. I really enjoyed the beats from the two drummers as well as the clean guitar tones. When the tempo was slow I would describe their music as ambient. When the beat picked up however, there was a definite post-jazz guitar influence that reminded very much of The Sea and Cake. With this laid back music, the college hipster crowd was mostly seated on the sides and back of the venue, with nobody in the main area in front of the stage. For some reason it reminded of a middle school dance, with no kids brave enough to get on the dance floor. The vocals added a whole another dimension to the sound and I really enjoyed the songs "Elephant" and "Over The Counter Kids."
The Starlight Mints started at nearly 12:30AM and opened with their instrumental, "Rhino Stomp," from their 2006 release, Drowaton. I had the perfect spot, center stage about ten yards back. During the opening song, the white screen behind them had the visual of bright red blood running down from the top of the screen. It was a creepy visual for an equally creepy song. From there they went right into the Drowaton rocker, "The Bee," which got everyone's heading bobbing along. I love their brand of indie pop rock combined with Allan Vest's quirky lyrics. For example, on the song "Tort," Vest sang, "Mommy killed a mouse/Baby burned the house/Daddy found the pills." For a Pavement fan, it does not get any better than lyrics like that.
The rest of their energy-filled hour-long set, the band played songs mostly from Drowaton and their 2000 release, Dream That Stuff Was Made Of. "Black Cat" was the only song I recognized from Built On Squares. However, Drowaton is the album that brought me to the concert and was a huge leap forward for the band. The great thing about Drowaton that sets it apart is their use of strings and horns. Even though the strings and horns weren't live last night, the sound was amazing. They played two songs for their encore, ending with my favorite song of theirs, "Popsicle," which is an amazing psych-pop song. I was thrilled to see a band this talented in such a small venue without being elbow-to-elbow with people. It was a great night and Starlight Mints will remain one of the most talented and original psych-pop band today... despite the endless comparisons to the Flaming Lips. Hopefully they'll be back in Austin soon.