by Shawn Rameshwar
FAT CAT'S -- 10/7/2004, 10:00ISH:
The Good: I'd never heard of this band before this show. Midlake's lineup consists of a drummer, a keyboardist, a bassist, two other guys who switch off between electric and acoustic guitars while sharing vocals, and a second keyboard. When the band started their first song I thought to myself, "Well I guess I'm going to have to endure this" -- their opener was lackluster, to say the least. They had this projector displaying on a screen behind them some sort of "line art" emblem with their name written under it, and it seemed a bit silly for an opening band to be this commercially sophisticated. My mind would soon change, however, as they actually incorporated some story-form film shorts that really worked well with the music. I've seen bands attempt this and flounder miserably; this was only the third time I'd ever witnessed a band doing the audio visual thing with meaning. Furthermore, the visual aspect added to the musical side of things such that each part gave reference to the other. I'm not saying this melding of media was brilliant -- what I am saying is that it worked. Context is everything for some bands. Paying more attention to the music, I would say that Midlake was an interesting band, filled with actual musicians who obviously are sincere and concerned with the music they make. I enjoyed their music and their art.
The Bad: From time to time the vocals drowned out different parts of the sound. When they were finished I noticed that one of the keyboardists played a Rhodes, yet I rarely could tell; maybe that was half the point. One of the singers sang out of key from time to time, but I thought both did a good job, and the mistakes were not a distraction nor obvious. Lyrically, I would describe both singers as a sort of mix between McCartney-esque phrasing with the usual modern influences (Thom Yorke, Badly Drawn Boy, dude from Coldplay). Though I thought these guys were entertaining, I immediately thought to myself that if Radiohead, Coldplay, and the like did not exist, this would be an awesome band.
The Ugly: Took too long to break down their set, for one thing. For another, just because I may look like a nice guy doesn't necessarily mean I have "Sure, push your way through the crowd and stand right in front of me so I can't see anything" stamped on my forehead. C'mon, Houston: a little show etiquette would be welcome. After all, my twelve bucks should be offered the same opportunity as your twelve bucks to meet its potential, don't you think?
Do Make Say Think
The Good: Absolutely the best musicians I've heard in a while. Everybody (except drummers) switched off between saxamaphones (d'oh!), guitars, basses, and keyboards before, during, and in the middle of songs without missing a beat; impressive. You don't often see a left-handed drummer, and yet these guys had two. The intensity was amazing, and these guys just got all up in your bones, with that low-end shaking loose stuff you didn't even know was there. Melodies abounded and left their ambient entrails to wreak havoc in your ears. I was not expecting this type of performance; right in the middle of their set, I found myself grasping for an appropriate way to categorize these guys, and I decided on this "An aural representation of James Joyce on Acid." Everything they did was seamless and extremely entertaining.
The Bad: I might be deaf.
The Ugly: If Phish can play for 24 hours out in the desert, d'you think you guys could do the same the next time you're in Houston? Like the musical crackhead that I am, I wanted more.
Show rating: 12 dollar show that I would have paid 20 bucks for.
Do Make Say Think -- http://www.cstrecords.com/html/domake.html;
Midlake -- http://www.midlake.net/