CMJ Music Marathon 2008 Day 2: Nelo
Words and Pictures by Thomas Hauner
As soon as Nelo introduced themselves and their Austin origins it cemented my theory of what they would sound like. Now image is not everything, granted, but in music it is a lot of things. So when you look like you could be high school baseball teammates and you’re from a college town, chances are you’re going to sound like an amalgamation of the standard Big 12 conference college fraternity playlist: Blues Traveler, Bare Naked Ladies, Stone Temple Pilots and, last but not least, Dave Matthews Band.
As the six-piece eased into their laid back grooves, I couldn’t help but feel like I should be tapping a keg somewhere. The group showed some flair by adding saxophonist David Long and the lead vocalist, Reid Umstattd, seemed to alternate cues from Scott Weiland, Glen Phillips, and Eddie Vedder. The band was mostly listless on stage, needing at least four songs before showing any emotion. It was an opening slot, and they did profess a love of beer, but still, it’s your first gig in the Big Apple, make something of it!
Sounding very much like “Southern Cross” on their last song, the group could easily follow down the career path of successful alt-country rockers like Pat McGee. But their lack of bite and preference for easy smiles may just make them a West Texas name.