It is no secret that I love Restorations, I have reviewed every album of theirs as it came out of CC2K, (A/B EP, LP 2, LP 3) always super taken up with their sound, their vibe, their music. Up until now I haven’t had the opportunity to see them live, it always seemed that I has other commitments when they came to Pittsburgh. Restorations opened the show, looking a bit disheveled, with no introduction. Lead singer, Jon Loudon asked the audience if we ever saw Spinal Tap where they had to keep getting a drummer because theirs kept exploding. I’m still not sure of the circumstances but their regular drummer was out and the drumming duties were split between their merch guy and Jeff Kummer of The Early November.
So knowing that the drummers just learned the songs, I took the set in a different way. For one, I never realized just how intricate the drum parts of their songs are, seriously. I always thought that their music had another level that created an atmosphere, and therefore, they aren’t the type of band that you can tap your foot to the beat, but there is too much going on. Each song was solid, they worked together to ensure that everything sounded great, but their was an air of preoccupation on stage, they simply had too much on their minds to give us a killer set. This did offer some insight into the band, they couldn’t have been nicer, funnier, or vulnerable. Loudon commented on how beautiful the venue was an talked as though he had known the whole audience forever, so though they only played short, slightly distracted set, I watched as they won some new fans as their set went on. Rumor has it, or at least they said, they’d be back in November. So I am super looking forward to that show.
As for the other two bands, I may be one of the few but I didn’t know either Lydia or The Early November. This offered me an unusual look at the show, usually I get to choose shows where I love the bands, or at least know what they sound like and who they are. This time, I was seeing it with fresh eyes and was able to really look in on this audience who was small but intense.
Lydia was up next, an indie rock band from Arizona who has been around for over ten years. Leighton Antelman, may have been the least likely lead singer I have ever seen. Slightly awkward at the front of the stage but so passionate that his body seemed overtaken by the performance. His gangly mannerisms were unrestrained and natural and the way that he turned away from the microphone before every phrase was completed added to the unique performance style.
Antelman talked with the audience a lot, asking where they were from and how far they drive for shows (because bands skip over Pittsburgh on the regular). The audience cheered as each song was announced and sang along to every world. Though I still wasn’t won over musically, (it’s just not my style), there where these moments of pure poetry that lead me to look up some lyrics when I got home.
The Early Novemeber was the headliner. Though I had never heard of them, the room knew otherwise. They are a Drive-Thru band that sounds like most Drive-Thru bands, melodic poppy emo. Though that was really not my thing, it was a huge part of my high school years because I had quite a few friends that were into that genera. The audience here felt like they were waiting years for this show. That all these emotions were pent of for years and they were looking to let it out in a room full of people that went through the same things.
Maybe because most of my friends that were into the poppy emo thing were girls, I associate it with female audiences, so it was kinda weird that this show though was mostly male, screaming along with every word. Groups of dudes singing along, singing to one another when their favorite verses came on, holding up their beers in solidarity.
Ace Enders was very charismatic, super stylish and trendy, yet the awkward emo kid still came out when he spoke and sang. There was a heckler in the audience, though I am not sure you could call him a heckler, he just really loudly loved them...a lot...whom he took in stride and formed a pleasant enough banter with him by the end of the night.
The highlight of their set was a stripped down song, which Enders told the audience was the first song that he ever wrote for The Early November performed by only himself and bassist Sergio Anello. It was intimate and beautiful and raw and the audience just adored it.
I was asked by a friend what I look for when I do these reviews, the truth is, that I never thought about it. I talk about what I see, hear, and experience, but I don’t look for anything. When I am at a concert or listening to a record, I do have an agenda or outline. Every time is new and different, every time I approach it as a potential fan, if I am not one already. Music is about how it makes you feel, from records to shows, from music to lyrics, to personality, to ambiance, everyone has their own strengths that they use as tools in order to make the audience feel what they felt when making that music.
BAsed on that criteria I thought about this show. Restorations had other issues on their mind and performed as though they did, Lydia and The Early November stirred up passion and turned strangers into a sea of of screams with a common bond, if only for that night. And really, as a band, what more can you ask for.