Summer Battle at Velour: Episode III: Revenge of the Synth

by M. Lewis Barker

(Thanks to Landon Young of Dream Eater/The Crylics for coming up with today’s title.)

Yesterday was our busiest day yet here at Provo Music Guide, and I’d just like to thank all of you who post these silly little reviews on Facebook, because that’s where the traffic comes from. So keep on sharing!

And as long as people are reading the site now, I’d like to point you all towards The Music Lounge, a new site dedicated to advancing the Provo music scene. You can read more about it in this article.

Eidola at Velour 6/15/2011 Photo by Alex Pow

And while you’re here, check out our archives and read some of the CD reviews. This site has a lot of content and has updated quite frequently for seven months now. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. But for now, let’s get to reviewing last night’s amazing show at Velour.

Eidola kicked things into high gear with one of the most energetic sets ever seen on Velour’s stage. And the light show was a cause for great worry among any epileptics in the audience. Eidola plays a sort of psychedelic prog rock with heavy blues and metal influences. That sounds complicated, and frankly, it is. Their musicianship is superb, and the band practices so much that they play tighter than almost anyone else in town. Last night’s show was no exception, and it was one of the best I’ve seen from the band. They also recently released an EP and you can read the review here for more information on their sound and style. I went to the show really wanting them to win, but I was quite surprised by the rest of the bands.

Bus People at Velour 6/15/2011 Photo by Alex Pow

Bus People is an all-girl indie rock band and by golly it’s about time Provo gets a good girl group! The music scene is often such a boys’ game and there’s no reason there’s not a nice 50/50 split. Bus People’s piano/guitar/drums arrangement is simple, but works for the music. Their music isn’t quite pop, but the songs are full of catchy little hooks and overall, it’s very “safe”. Jessica the pianist and Jessica the guitarist (heretofore referred to as Jess P and Jess G) trade off vocal duties, often singing the same melody, creating a thickness to those soprano vocals. The instrumentation is more than passable, though I found Jess G’s leads to be a step down from her wonderful rhythms. She felt a little uncomfortable with the instrument, and the tone was pretty weak for guitar leads, though this is mostly in contrast to the fact that she plays so well the rest of the time. They’re not afraid to do cool instrumentals – one song went on for at least two minutes before the vocals kicked in. Occasionally the two Jessicas will do a vocal harmony, and I wish their were more. Jess P’s voice sounds more natural when she’s singing the lower alto, and it works in wonderful contrast to Jess G’s soprano. Overall, Bus People played the kind of music that I would listen to on my own, and they’re the band I most want to see in the future because I just enjoy the songs. If you like Rilo Kiley, Azure Ray, Yo La Tengo, or Cat Power, you’ll dig Bus People.

Wolves at Velour 6/15/2011 Photo by Alex Pow

Wolves is quickly making a name for themselves in the local scene with their spacey, ambient tunes. They also told me to write an honestly brutal review, and as much as I’d like to oblige them, I did enjoy their music. The addition of Jesse Quebberman-Turley (of Gypsy Cab and a million other bands) on drums really added a lot to their esoteric sound. Jared Cisnero’s synth gives us many of the sounds that really define the band, though they are all based in Kyle Hooper’s almost arhythmic songs. The songs themselves really only work when you add in the rest of the band and a whole lot of reverb. Their weakpoint are the vocals, and I don’t mean that Hooper is a bad singer because he can sing very well. But they seem to lack direction as if they are an afterthought to the guitar. He just kind of wails into the microphone. If Wolves just played instrumental music, there would be little difference. Every song sounds pretty much the same, with a long buildup starting with guitar and vocals to a short climax. Though the last song was quite energetic from start to finish and their sets would be more interesting if they mixed it up a bit more like that. I was getting a little tired of the set until I started thinking of the music from an Eastern perspective, where we listen to long periods of soundscapes as opposed to songs with a clear progression. Just close your eyes and enjoy the sounds.

Searching for Celia at Velour 6/15/2011 Photo by Alex Pow

And finally, we ended last night with Searching For Celia, whose inclusion in this Battle of the Bands is unfair to everyone else involved. They were the best band last night, no question (despite their band name which makes every show look like a support group for celiacs*). They play instrumental Post Rock, like Explosions in the Sky or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and they play it damn well. The band has cello, violin, two guitars, drums, and bass with keyboard, accordion, and xylophone mixed in for good measure. They pull sources from rock, Irish folk, classical music, and it all comes together to sound like a film score. The compositions, written by the whole band (no idea how they pulll this off), show a deep understanding of music. There’s so much soul and emotion in each note. The band members know their instruments in and out and have a great sense of musicality. After awhile, it’s very easy to space out and the music can get a little boring as there’s just so much all the time, but no two songs sounded that alike. I’m very glad they opted not to have any vocals, as these are pure compositions and work best that way.

Last night was easily the best night so far, no offense to anyone that played previously. But all four bands were really great, and it’s a shame that only one gets to advance.

Night Three’s Winner: Searching For Celia.

Barker’s Pick: Bus People. While SFC was easily the best band, Bus People was my favorite. They just played the kind of music that I enjoy and they did a great job of it. I was very surprised by their songs as too often you’ll see a band of pretty girls and they hide behind that without showing much talent.
Runner Up: Eidola. Musically, they are right up their with Searching For Celia and are just about as impressive. They really deserve a lot of recognition for playing some of the most intelligent music in Provo. All four bands were incredibly close though and I’m just going by personal taste.

Tonight, night 4, we will be treated to Ruts & WeedsPat B & the T-BirdsPlease Be Human, and Westerlies. It’s sure to be another great show. And make sure to stay for the whole thing and vote for your favorite band instead of just your friends. And I really hope to see you there tomorrow as my band will be playing and it will give everyone an opportunity to tell us how much we suck in retaliation for all the criticism I dish out on here.



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