Tom and Angie Green own the little bar on first street now which was Exit 6C. They have named it The Electric Circus, though it is ironically very dark. The original Electric Circus on St. Mark’s Place had dozens of projectors and ariel acrobats.
The show was running late and Stars Go Dim got going about 45 minutes behind schedule.
The crowd is generally young and not flashy, though there are some hot chicks. Nobody is smoking. The drinks are all bottled and few of the customers are having beers. There are even some children. This is a clean show.
I wondered how a band with three songs could have already won national awards, but they have been in the business preceding this band, and know the ropes. Songs are breaking these days on TV soundtracks and SGD proudly notes you can hear one of their songs on Hollister stores’ sound systems nationwide, and another on an MTV show.
There’s a real piano onstage. There is subliminal thumping of something vaguely hip-hop while the players are trying to get levels on their monitors.
They are actually better live than their recordings; this is good. It’s usually the case; the crowd, the sound of a room, and the spontaneity of getting to play all at once puts more energy into the songs. Though the crowd is only about 100 fans, the group is giving their all.
Chris Cleveland is a convincing singer with a strong tenor voice. He’s singing the story, not just showcasing his considerable range. He plays piano about one fourth of the time, when he’s not strumming an acoustic.
“This next song is number one in The Phillipines. Go figure.” (Okie Roger Tillison is on the charts there now too.)
There are six guys on stage tonight, Cavet Vinion is playing virtual Hammond B3 back in the corner. This gives the band a fuller, authoritative classic rock sound. He’s unobtrusive, but may be the nimblest player in the group. The extra electric guitar is played by Jeff Boatman.
The musical pallet is limited, but simplicity begets accesibility. It’s actually hard to write simple songs that haven’t already been written. Many great songwriters never use more than just major and minor chords. One pitfall shows itself in that two songs share the same 6-4-1-5 chord progression.
Lester Estelle is a solid, punchy drummer and Micahel Witting anchors the sound on bass. Thankfully, he doesn’t play ‘lead’ bass, but hearing him warm up, you suspect he could.
Chris and JoeyAvalos (playing an acoustic) did a couple of newer songs that presumably the band hasn’t arranged yet, and there are signs of broader musical experimentation there; a ‘drinking’ song with a country beat “How Long Have You Been Stealing Our Women From Us?”, and a darker song with some minor ninths and tense suspensions in it. Another song is so new that Chris is reading the lyrics from a notebook.
They are good players and the arrangements are tight. It was a good show, honest and upbeat.They aren’t out to change the world. They are writing stories about love and that subject never goes out of style.
Photos: Justin Brockey