October 20, 2008

Concert Review: Audible Thought w/ Section 18, Semblance of a Soul, Stealing Kisses, Art Imitating Life - Poughkeepsie, NY 10/17/08

So many times in the past I have written about how great it is to unwind with some live music on a Friday night knowing full well I was not living up to those words. It is true that I do love me some live music, and it is true that I was successfully unwinding during those shows (Friday night or not), but I was not living up to my full potential. This particular night I came closer to fulfilling the full promise of unwinding than I ever have before. The results of my more complete unwinding were fantastic, resulting in a night of music, fun, and just overall enjoyment. Some of the things that generally go along with the Friday night concert are friends and drink, both of which are sadly scarce during my typical show going.

This particular night was a homecoming of sorts for Audible Thought. It has been just about a year since they last graced the stage of The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY. Last October the band debuted a newly revamped line-up as they opened for thrash legends Overkill. It was a solid show, however it was short lived as they went through another shakeup leading to the recruitment of another new bass player (a position that has recently been likened to Spinal Tap's drummer problems). Over the past year the band has only played a handful of shows. Everything has been leading up to this night, which sees them return to the big stage announcing what will hopefully be a full time return to the local scene. With them, Audible Thought heads up a night of local bands all charged with the goal of entertaining the fans.

As I arrived at the club, I was greeted by Ryan and Nick, of Audible Thought. We chatted about their hopes for the show, how late they got their equipment in, precluding them from getting in a good sound check. I also learned that I missed Downfire, one of the bands I had been looking forward to seeing. Turns out that one of the guys works nights, so they had to go on early in order to accommodate him. They guys went on to make their rounds, and I moved down closer to the stage for the next act.

Throughout the night, during and in between acts, I had the opportunity to approach and be approached by members of Downfire, Audible Thought, Section 18, and a host of former Audible members, not to mention hanging out with some friends. It was a decidedly different experience than my usual solo experiences. That and the increased consumption made the evening as a whole stand out among recent concert experiences. I had a great time talking music and just hanging around. Of course, a couple of drinks will make just about anyone feel at least a little happy.

Art Imitating Life took the stage as keyboards set an eerie mood. A girl wandered out onto the stage, looking lost, before melting into the black at the back of the stage as the vocalist made his way to center stage. The keyboards faded and the guitars kick in. After a couple of songs the girl we saw at the top of the set returned to the stage, taking over vocal duties.

They struck me as wanting to be like Evanescence or Lacuna Coil, playing an image heavy goth sound. The members definitely looked young and appeared to have talent, although it did seem like they paid a little too much attention to the Tim Burton-inspired image at the expense of the music, with the "wandering girl" opening, the bassist in Joker make-up, drummer looking like a reject from the the Misfits, and the faceless masks they all wore during their cover of Michael Andrews' "Mad World" (a song made famous in the film Donnie Darko).

I do like the potential they have. They brought a sound that I have not heard from a local act, of course I could just be going to the wrong shows. In any case, the performance was not great, but I like what they could bring to the table. I look forward to seeing them in the future. Let me close by saying their drummer was their brightest spot, the guy is good.

The next band was a cover act called Stealing Kisses. A solid band, to be sure, but one I found I needn't pay much attention too. They played some classic 80's rock tunes, spiced with some older Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin fare.

This is when I grabbed my first drink, mixed strong. I also bumped into a friend and a few of his friends. We chatted about the music and how things were. This led to some goofy fun as we moved down towards the stage for the next band. Around this time another friend arrived and hung around with us enjoying the evening.

Stealing Kisses finished up and Semblance of a Soul took the stage. This was a band I was absolutely dreading. I saw them once before, way back in January of 2007 when they opened for Meliah Rage. Simply put, they were terrible. They were so bad that I remember saying that if they were your first local experience, it may be enough to swear you off further trips. Fortunately, time has been at least a little bit kind to the band. They were not nearly as bad as they were the first time I saw them. Of course, that doesn't say much.

The music was nothing special, typified by bland songwriting. However, they did play well and kept the energy up. They even brought their own cheerleaders, who were doing their thing in the pit. Even with sub par music, it is always good to see people excited about music (of course, it would be preferable that it be good music, but that is a topic that can be endlessly debated and never won).

Section 18 was up next. Earlier in the night I spoke with frontman Mikey P. who told me to expect a heavier sound tonight, jokingly telling me it was just for me. You see, one of the things I had written about them in the past concerned a wish that they were a bit heavier. It wasn't a criticism, just an observation based on my tastes. The reason for their new found heaviness? They were playing with their returning rhythm guitarist who has been playing with a hardcore act, he brought some of that back with him and the band was affected by it. This is still Section 18 and the music is still very accessible, it just has a heavier feel. I like it.

Their performance featured a cover of Killswitch Engage's cover of Dio's "Holy Diver," which sounded excellent. Also, partway through their final song, they broke into a bit of Pantera's "Walk." That really got the crowd cheering. Overall, Section 18 delivered a solid performance. Strong guitars, excellent drums, and Mikey P. sounded excellent.

Finally, the moment we all were waiting for, the return of Audible Thought to The Chance stage. They came out firing on all cylinders with "Measure Up." It was great hearing them, the mix was great and the guys seemed to be really geared up to deliver. Problems arrived early, as the monitors were not mixed well, causing the guys not to be able to hear each other all that well. The first couple of songs had some bad timing where they were not in sync with each other. This seemed to clear up, although I learned later that they couldn't hear each other at all for the whole set.

The band has gotten much stronger over the past couple of shows. They have added more punch to their older tunes and the new tunes are showing signs of stronger songwriting and a willingness to try heavier and more complex arrangements. This is exemplified in the song "Crush." I first heard this last month and I liked the potential it had, but it was not quite ready for primetime, they have worked on it and the new version sounds phenomenal, considerably better than the last I heard it and has the potential of being a big one for them. That along with "Can't Break Me" stood out as the best of the night.

Following the show, I hung out with the guys as they broke down their equipment, everyone seemed happy with the performance. They seemed very happy to be back on a real stage with some room to move around in. I am hoping this is a start of some serious forward motion for them, as they are quite good and very dedicated to the music. I am sure the completion of their upcoming CD release will also help them out.

As for the night? It had its ups and downs, but there is no denying the fun that was had. Friends, drink, and music is definitely a serious combination when it comes to a good time. Just remember, be responsible.


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