Friday, July 11, 2008

The Blueheels/Decibully/Jentri Colello; July 11, 2008; High Noon Saloon

After opening Blake Thomas’s CD release show the week before, Jentri Colello got her chance in the spotlight. Even though tonight’s show was billed as her EP release, she played first. It was a smart move. Sharing a bill with heavy-hitters like Decibully and the Blueheels guaranteed there would be a crowd, playing first insured they might be sober for her set, though I am not so sure she wouldn’t have been more comfortable in front of a bunch of drunks (for instance the group that the Blueheels played for later in the night). It is often hard to tell if her disconnectedness is from musical aloofness or nervousness. Either way, the way she gazes over the top of the audience’s heads, not making eye contact with anyone, save occasionally with her boyfriend (Blueheels’ Robbie Schiller who sang backing vocals on “Bird of Prey”), seems to make her songs all the more powerful.

And there is some weight behind them. From the ache of “Black Daisies” to the longing of “Texas,” these are tales of betrayal, lost love and infidelity, and every word seems true. Even though there isn’t a lot of range in her voice, which has been compared to Cat Power’s Chan Marshall minus the drama, it is absolutely what makes the songs and the band so quietly addictive. She has assembled a terrific band, friends of hers who are also terrific musicians. I’m not sure she could do it with out them.

I have come to the realization that some bands are indoor bands and some are outdoor bands, and it truly was a Eureka! moment. Prior to tonight I wasn’t sure how I felt about Milwaukee’s Decibully. I had seen them twice on the Terrace and been unimpressed, even bored, same could be said for their performance at Summerfest last weekend; however their opening set for Califone last summer had been amazing. Halfway through tonight’s similarly high-energy, musically dense set I figured it out, they are an indoor band. While there is no reason for a band like Spoon to not be good in the fresh air, other than Britt Daniels’ fair complexion, it is easy to see how Decibully could get lost where there are no walls to contain their sound.

Despite having at least seven guys on stage at all time, their sound is never overpowering. Instead, with several of them playing percussion instruments at any one time, it is smart and spare and enveloping. I can’t wait to see them again, as long as there is a roof over our heads.

The Blueheels had just played perhaps the biggest show of their life less than a week before on the Potawatomi stage at Summerfest and didn’t turn down the intensity at all for this show on a slightly smaller stage. Granted, there were no decapitated Bratz dolls flying through the air, or rubber chickens rocketed off the end of a pitchfork, but it was plenty entertaining all the same. A crowd that had been quietly respectful during Jentri’s set were now boisterous and quite likely drunk, singing along loudly whenever they knew the words and sometimes when they didn’t. As many times as I have seen the Blueheels, this is only the second time I have seen them play the High Noon. As their popularity continues to increase I expect to see them there a lot more.

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