Cave In + Piebald + The Damn PersonalsCity: Chicago
Venue: The Metro
The reality check is in the mail!" wailed Stephen Brodsky, the lead guitarist and vocalist of Cave In, as a relatively small but dedicated crowd focused their eyes upon the stage. As a result of recent tour stops with the Foo Fighters, the following for the Massachusetts-based Cave In has expanded beyond the band's native Northeast. Indeed, the crowd at Chicago's Metro seemed to experience the music with a somewhat religious fervor, entirely appropriate given the ethereal effects Brodsky applied to his guitar solos. Running strange objects made of plastic and metal along the fret board, he created sounds that were clean, abrasive, harrowing, and strangely beautiful. His stage presence was at once buoyant and laid-back, possessing the right sort of energy for the blaring indie rock purveyed by the band. In performance, Brodsky and his cohorts -- Adam McGrath on rhythm guitar, Caleb Scofield on bass, and the hyper-kinetic J.R. Connors on drums -- prove that a rock and roll band can possess the tight, flawless communicative rapport of a string quartet. More than mere listeners have taken note of Cave In's impressive onstage dynamic and hard-driving songs; the growing appeal of this up-and-coming band has caught the ear of RCA Records, who released Cave In's latest album, Antenna. It was this album that provided the entirety of the set list for the performance, and, judging from the quality of the songs, it came as no surprise that the band has worked its way to a major-label release. Each song surged with a passion that bordered on that of the rock-anthem, but stopped short of such excess, delivering exactly the right element of sturm und drang required of the genre. The songs also contained memorable choruses, resulting in an enthusiastic crowd joining in, pumping their shivering fists into the air. When compared to the high-quality sound of Cave In, the two opening bands seemed mediocre. Piebald, another band with origins in Massachusetts, presented a set full of schizophrenic songs, whose frenetic verses come across as watered-down versions of average '90s rock, while the choruses of these very same songs consist of simple hooks derivative of mainstream early '70s pop -- in a word, unoriginal. Nevertheless, the band appeared to have many devoted followers in the audience, mouthing along with every word. The memorably named Damn Personals, the first band to go on, displayed a refreshingly raw energy, but needed more polish in both composition and performance. With greater time and exposure, this band might follow in the footsteps of a band such as Cave In, taking the basic red-blooded indie rock style and pushing it to its ethereal limits, all the while maintaining cohesiveness as an ensemble.