Imaginary Baseball League w/De Novo Dahl and The Apparitions
May 6 at Wall Street, Murfreesboro
When it's that time of the month, nothing relieves cramps like beating up on crappy Murfreesboro bands for the fun of it-or so we read somewhere on the Web. (Those sensitive emo types know women so well.) With that in mind, we hit the interstate Monday night in search of innocent victims. After stopping off at CVS for some tampons and Midol, we managed to find the 'Boro's Red Rose Coffee House for The Falling and The Reputation. In truth, we were really looking forward to both bands, especially with the reputation Murfreesboro has as a great live music town.
Surprise, surprise: disaster ensued. We arrived only to be baffled by the small crowd, who seemed better prepared for study hall than a night of kick-ass music. We wondered if we were in the right place. We sat for two hours, had some delicious coffee beverages, and waited. And waited. And waited some more, until some average-Joe singer-songwriter timidly pulled out his acoustic guitar and sang a few blubbering songs. By 11 p.m. nothing else had happened. Thoughts of the half-hour drive back and the workday ahead loomed in our minds. Like the aging mid-20s hipsters we are, we headed back to Nashville, thoroughly disappointed and slightly pissed off.
That didn't stop one of us from dragging back to the 'Boro Thursday night to Wall Street, just in time once again to sit around for a couple hours. Apparently there's a Murfreesboro Standard Time that makes every show run late. First up were The Apparitions, a garage-rock band hailing from Lexington, Ky. Instrumentally, they weren't bad: even when they ignored the crowd, sometimes even circling the drummer so that none of the five shaggy-haired band members was facing the audience, their jamming was still pretty exciting.
But when the three singers harmonized, it was impossible to understand anything they sang other than "yeeeaaaahh!"which was repeated constantly. During one song we're pretty sure we deciphered the word "robot" in the chorus, but we're not certain. The bandmates seemed to be amusing themselves, and despite their drunken smiles their playing was tight. Yet the songs all ran together into one long track, with a severe lack of creativity. The highlight came when the lead singer claimed they had free beer by their CD stand (lies! lies!) and an uninhibited blonde shimmied like a maniac in front of the stage.
Thank the music gods, though, for De Novo Dahl. Dressed in white (and decked out with what looked like a music store's worth of instruments), the six band members took the stage with expressions of wide-eyed curiosity, as if even they didn't know what to expect. The excitement in the room was invigorating: people jumped up from their seats and ran to the front, eager to get their hips shaking and heads bobbing. Though transplanted now to Hendersonville, the former Murfreesboro residents drew a bigger crowd than the hometown headliners, Imaginary Baseball League.
A surplus of ideas and inventive arrangements makes De Novo Dahl stand out. Part nerd-rockers, part house-party junkies, the band coaxes flawless, intricate electro-pop out of their approximately 234,353 instruments. At times the lyrics were hard to make out over the banks of keyboards and the overall sonic density. But the variety offered by singers Mark Bond, Joel McAnulty and omnichordist Serai Zaffiro (who all shared lead vocals) was always exciting.
With their theatrical flair and their many-layered songs, which combine elements of space music and dance beats and chamber pop, De Novo Dahl have enough going on at all times for three bands. The only frustration is that sometimes they have so much going on that you don't know where to look. That's a good kind of frustration.
Two weeks ago we'd never heard the headliners, Imaginary Baseball League. Now we know all the lyrics. It's no fun beating up on good bands, but oh well. If this keeps up, we might have to come down to Murfreesboro more often. We'll set our watches two hours slow.