I just love live music. Factoring in both the responsibilities of maintaining a career and the narrowing scope of live bands I care to hear, it has been a while since I’ve gone to a show. There’s a certain pervasive excitement in the experience surrounding live music; the standing in line with other fans, the watching and waiting during soundchecks, and — yes — even the pushing and pulling of a sea of people.
So it was with some excitement that I happened upon a concert listing for Eisley, the talented little band from Tyler, Texas. Jessica was the first person to introduce me to the band, and I’ve been a fan ever since. The mix of pop, folk, rock, country, and sci-fi/fantasy lyrics have earned the musical family a well-deserved following.
This was the first time we’d been to Deep Ellum which, as far as I can tell, is the place for music in Dallas. The Gypsy Tea Room and Ballroom greeted us with an unexpectedly long, snaking line of patrons waiting for the doors to open.
We got in soon enough and found a spot near the stage and a wall so that my exceeding height would not become a nuisance to the unfortunate soul who might find themselves standing behind me. I know, I’m such a gentleman. The evening began with Pilotdrift, a band that sounded a lot like the meandering lovechild of Grandaddy and Radiohead playing pirate songs on a Led Zeppelin tribute album. Yeah, I know. Talk about variety. They were actually quite good; I pretty much always enjoy the creative use of synthesisers, Moogs, and wacky audio filters. It didn’t hurt that there was a prominently-displayed Powerbook onstage. I’m interested to hear what their album sounds like because their live set seemed to really shift gears at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it seemed like 2 or 3 songs were getting smooshed together.
Lovedrug took the stage next, and the first though I had was, “Man, how bad do these guys want to be Coldplay?” Too bad they didn’t have the chops. The vocalist had a positively nauseating voice and was clearly more interested in seeing how many long, drawn-out Thom York-ish whining sessions he could fit into each song instead of attempting to enunciate a single word. More nails got hammered into their musical coffin by the lead guitarist’s histrionics and posturing. Remember Spider from School of Rock? Pretty much the same guy, minus the chestless leather shirt.
After Lovedrug’s positively coma-inducing set of nondescript whine-alongs, we finally got the goods we all paid to hear. Eisley played a tight set and delivered those trademark harmonies at every turn. As it turns out, this was the last show of their tour so there was a good amount of stage banter. At one point, one of the girls mentioned that Hilary Duff had invited them to open for her upcoming tour. Ha. They declined. There was a fair amount of new material played as well as old favorites like Treetops and I Wasn’t Prepared. I’ve seen pictures and such, but I was still a bit surprised at how young the band really is. Their music just reflects more maturity than youth. Maybe they’re just old souls.
Rough non-sequential setlist as follows:
- Mr. Pine
- Telescope Eyes
- Golly Sandra
- Marvelous Things
- I Wasn’t Prepared
- Vintage People
- Just Like We Do
- Plenty of Paper
- Lost at Sea
- Blackened Crown
- Head Against the Sky
It was a great time, and reminded us of why we love concerts so much. With the lingering sounds of the music still ringing in our ears, we hit the highway for home, promising ourselves that we’d give ourselves more chances to forget our silly problems for just a few hours of musical bliss.