See slideshows for more photos: Annuals; Jessica Lea Mayfield
The Spin was disappointed that we were feeling under the weather last Friday, one of the first nice days of the year, mostly because we decided to be a grown-up about it and forgo drinking as we hit up Exit/In
to see hard-touring and precocious North Carolina popsters Annuals
. We walked in as opener What Laura Says
were finishing up, so we had only one impression: harmonicas. Great timing!
The spring-like warmth outside turned Exit/In into an uncomfortable sauna inside, and we were starting to feel the heat as next-up Jessica Lee Mayfield
hit the stage. Playing this evening with Ghostfinger
's Richie Kirkpatick
, Mayfield had the standard country-pretty voice that sings standard sad-girl love songs that sound absolutely great after you've been drinking alone after a breakup, but are pretty much unbearable at any other time. OK, one beer. On and on and on she went, seemingly forever, but eventually the lolling, depression-heavy set was over and Annuals took the stage.
The boy-boy-boy-boy-boy-girl lineup reminded us of the De Novo Dahl from several season ago, but less, you know, good. The drums were (literally) lighting up all over the place like the Blue Man group. The keyboards reminded us of Van Halen's "Right Now." The guitars, bizarrely, sounded like Gish
-era Smashing Pumpkins. The vocals were so Thom Yorke-ified we could almost imagine the singer got his start in a Radiohead cover band. All of these elements were in the very first song. OK, one more beer.
It seemed to us like a case of over-ambition: There were good (if emo-y) ideas everywhere that just needed scaling down a notch or 12. Really, two drummers? Knock it off, kids. The music had a generic kind of niceness about it and each seemed totally suitable to play over a climactic moment on One Tree Hill
. The Spin asked a nearby friend if he was able to recall the melody of the previous song, and we were both unable to remember anything about the music we were listening to not 20 seconds ago. OK, one final beer.
Even the crowd--college kids that had paid 10 whole recession dollars to see these earnest young ones didn't seem to feel it much. Outside of a couple of girls that bum-rushed the stage and swayed along to every song, the rest of the kids gently nodded their heads and carried on their conversations. When asked by the band if they were having a good time, the crowd responded with an embarrassingly small smatter of applause.
"That's not too bad," the elfin frontman replied, "but there's room for improvement." You said it kid, not us.