Live: Tilly and the Wall
(l to r) Derek, Kianna, Jamie, Nick, & Neely. Photo by Jaime Warren.
THE ENGINE ROOM -- 7/18/08: It's hard to write about a Tilly and the Wall show. Very hard. Because people will inevitably expect you to write about the tapping. Or about the balloons. Or about the exploding confetti. Or about the adoring (read: a wee bit crazy) fans who make cupcakes for the band and bring Silly String to shoot square in the face of unsuspecting music writers trying to sip a beverage. It's also hard to write about a Tilly and the Wall show because there's really nothing else like one, at least nothing I've ever seen.
The five-piece (I mean six-piece; sorry, new drummer guy) la-de-da-de-da from Omaha and/or Atlanta invaded The Engine Room (which, I don't care what people say, that place ruled; rest in peace...) last Friday in front of what looked like an almost capacity crowd, along with all the proper accoutrements. Elevated tap stage, dozens of balloons, hundreds of tiny bits of bright and ready-to-stick-on-all-that-hipster-sweat pieces of paper, 1980s-style wardrobe; it was all there. And I think it's fair to say that not one person walked out of there without a full-blown, "it's Christmas Eve and I still believe in Santa Claus" smile on their face. It was great.
For just under an hour and a half, Kianna, Neely, Derek, Jamie, Nick, and I'm not even gonna look the drummer's name up because I'm still protesting his membership in the band, sang songs from their three records (Wild Like Children, Bottoms of Barrels, o -- or circle, or sphere, or bicycle tire; I'm not really sure what the name of it is, and I don't think they are, either), almost all of which the entire audience knew the words to. There was even a dude (who couldn't have been a day over 16) standing next to me who said, "I went to elementary school with these kids." He had on a t-shirt from what is presumably the elementary school in Omaha they all went to. (I couldn't get verification on the legitimacy of these claims, but since not all the members of the band are from Omaha and since they're not all the same age, I'm gonna say he got the shirt at Taxi-Taxi.)
Still, though, the crowd was electric. It seems to be a trendy thing these days to say that no indie bands will ever come to Houston (mostly, I assume, because most of our city's venues absolutely blow), but on this night Tilly looked to feel right at home (they acted almost shocked that the audience was so into the show -- thumbs up, Houston).
I was surprised (and so happy) to hear "Beat Control" and "The Ice Storm, Big Gust, and You," a little bit sad to not hear "Lost Girls" or "You and I Misbehaving," blown the fuck away by "Fell Down the Stairs," and "Nights of the Living Dead," and a little peculiared-out when Neely sang lead on "Rainbows in the Dark" when Kianna normally does. Overall, though, it was a normal, run-of-the-mill amazing Tilly night. These guys give life to the lifeless. And yes, the tapping is a sight to see. END