No D In Threesome




Interpol, w/ School Of Seven Bells
Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
Monday, May 2, 2011

I've always made it a point to get to concerts in time to see the opening act, even if I'm not familiar with them before hand. There are a lot of reasons for this. Part of it is I've played in bands off and on since high school, so I know how much it sucks to play to a half empty room. But I've also discovered some of my favorite bands by seeing them open for someone else. Of course it's not always that way. Sometimes you have to sit through 45 minutes of pure crap, as was the case last time I saw Interpol at the Ryman, and Liars opened.

This time more than made up for that though, as School Of Seven Bells were fantastic. They definitely have a bit of a shoegazer vibe, falling somewhere on the musical venn diagram between Curve and The Cocteau Twins. Guitarist Benjamin Curtis (ex-Secret Machines) looked like a dead ringer for Joe Jonas, but his guitar playing was a perfect combination of Kevin Shields and The Edge. With last falls departure of founding member Claudia Deheza, her twin sister Alejandra was left to cover vocals on her own, but the songs definitely didn't suffer from the lack of harmonies. And the addition of live drums gave the songs an extra kick from the loops that make up most of their recorded output. It certainly had a different feel than their albums, but it sounded equally great.

I was curious to see whether I'd enjoy Interpol as much as I did last time for two reasons. One was that bassist Carlos Dengler had departed just after releasing their latest self titled album. The other was that I found that album, Interpol, to be a huge letdown. So I was kind of surprised that either the new songs sound a lot better live, or they just seem cooler when surrounded by selections from the rest of their catalog. Opening with "Success," the eighteen song set was equally divided between their four albums, with the early b-side "Specialist" thrown in for good measure. The highlight of the set came exactly at the halfway point with "Lights," the one standout track from their new album which sounded even more incredible live.

Throughout the evening, guitarist Daniel Kessler's epileptic Fred Astaire moves had his roadie playing cord wrangler, and Paul Banks exuded the kind of slightly goofy charm that reminds you of that guy in high school who seemed to move effortlessly through all the various cliques and was friends with everyone. Casual fans might not have even noticed that Carlos D is no longer in the band, as touring bassist Brad Truax had the same wide legged, low slung stance that Dengler often had. But there were a few moments, like on the verses of "Evil," where the bass wasn't quite as locked in with the drums as you'd want it to be. Granted, its probably not something most people would notice, but when you've spent your whole life in the rhythm section like I have, these are the things you hear. But aside from being nit picky, it's also totally forgivable, as Truax has only been playing with the band for a few weeks. And when they send you home with a killer version of "Slow Hands," it's hard to complain about anything.

School Of Seven Bells - "Windstorm" (mp3) from Disconnect From Desire


photo courtesy of Nashville Metromix

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