Prepped for a mild evening of pop indulgence, we pulled into the Mercy Lounge parking lot expecting lots of muted swaying, head-bobbing and girls dressed like grandmothers. What we found--aside from the terrible surprise of an old acquaintance we avoided the whole night--was not far off. The crowd was a mix of Vandy kids, hipsters and nameless twenty- and thirtysomethings who were mostly subdued, but seemed to have picked sides in a battle of Jesus sandals vs. Converse. Casualties were rampant, and neither side fought valiantly.
By the time the trio Oblio took the stage, a fairly large crowd had formed inside. We opted for the sweet spot halfway between the bar and the sound booth, where the air conditioner blasts, the sound is even and a reporter can properly scope the scene. Oblio coerced the crowd into delivering their love and applause with their own particular brand of bombastic pop mixed with flowery picking, catchy melodies and a really hard-hitting drummer. Though we were impressed with their technical prowess, we couldn't help but wonder if maybe they were biting off more than they could chew with their spastic transitions and obfuscating drum fills.
Between sets we hit up the porch, guzzling brews, furiously chain smoking and imagining stabbing patrons with our pen purely out of boredom. Once the novelty of that idea wore off, we ambled back inside, squeezing our way through seas of fashion glasses and gussied-up nerddom. It was at this point that we learned there were only two acts for the night, and that the headliner, Camera Obscura, was about to go on.
The Glasgow outfit put on a solid show, with frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell and her near flawless vocal performance taking center stage both in the mix and audience attention. Although there were no string players present, auxiliary members added subtleties and accents via brass, extra guitar and vocal harmonies, all of which helped to create that Orbisonesque sound the band has come to rely on. Our only real complaint regarding their performance was a lack of energy in their execution. This comes as no surprise, given the melancholic nature of their lyrics and the relaxed tone of their albums, but it still would have been nice if Tracyanne had given us a little hop, or even just a playful wink. Maybe some whiskey would have helped. Maybe she aims to leave us wanting more. Maybe not.