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Monday, November 2, 2009

Live Show Review: The Black Heart Procession


“Come on. What else you gonna do?”

No other quote yelled by an overly enthusiastic fan could quite sum up the eclectic instrumentalist nature of San Diego, California’s Black Heart Procession.  The grunge rock band stopped in Athens at the ghoulishly decorated 40 Watt Club on Tuesday, October 27 with openers The Mumlers.

So, what about the band’s instruments makes them so unpredictable?  That’s easy.  What other band can you recall that plays a combination of the spoons, the singing saw, violin, triangle and what looked like the lid of a tin trashcan, not to mention the usual guitar, bass, drums and keys.

The singing saw, which was one of the most interesting parts of the Procession’s performance, opened the set, with a moody tune, that pretty much put the band’s entire act in a nutshell.  These guys aren’t emo by any means, but then again, they’re not dancing on top of a rainbow popping Skittles out into a magical Easter basket.  (That would be quite the site though, wouldn’t it?)

And it seemed the crowd of about 25 or more knew what to expect out of the performance.  Tables were set up in the front of the stage and groups of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings sat around sipping on cocktails and talking quietly amongst each other.  The usual stretch of couches that divided the tables from the sound booth laid host to a throng of slouching hipsters and one either highly intoxicated, or just fanatically obsessive fan who, clapped the loudest and yelled things like “all right!” and “Wooo!” over the more reserved fans who attended Tuesday night’s show.

And oh how somber the masses were.

After each song, you could cut the silence with a knife.  You could hear every sneeze, every cough, even the sounds of the mic being adjusted by the lead singer.  But this shouldn’t be taken as a bad thing. 

Rather than a bunch of drugged up, liquored up rowdy college students, you had a group who were attending a show with the sole purpose of delving into the music—getting lost in the appropriate Halloween-vibe of the saw’s tones and the slapping of the spoons. 

One of the fan favorites was the single “Rats” from the Procession’s latest album “Six” which just happens to be the band’s sixth album and was released on October the sixth.  6. 6. 6.  Cue the evil laugh and the Halloween references now. 

But, no matter what, it’s hard not to recognize the many “devil” references in the band’s lyrics.  Take “Rats” for example.  The leading lyric goes:
“I can't sleep tonight the devil's in the moon”

But all together, mixing devils, saws, spoons, trash cans, overly enthusiastic crowd members, Halloween decorations and a violin that is making music as if you’re walking into a vampire coven, the night was fun, but in a more laid back, “I’m going to sip on my drink and ponder these lyrics” kind of vibe. 

-          Jessica Cole

Currently Listening to:  “The Letter” by The Black Heart Procession

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