Reviews

Saxon Shore

Amanda Zackem
Saxon Shore

Saxon Shore

City: Buffalo, New York
Venue: Broadway Joe's
Date: 2003-08-04
Concert reviewing is not always as glamorous as it sounds. You walk into hole-in-the-wall venues on a Monday night, with one eye open and praying you won't need a series of Tylenol pills to get you through the night. But sometimes you get lucky. You find those bands that have been shoved in between the cracks. These are the bands you somehow manage to stumble onto even though they're nowhere near the mainstream yet, and later that night you're thanking God that you did. This was just the case at the Saxon Shore show in Buffalo, New York. There were only a handful of people roaming around the relatively small bar as Karmella's Game, the first of two opening bands, took the stage. The five members, ranging from their late teens to early twenties, dressed in schoolgirl and boy get-ups (we're talking plaid skirts, knee highs and V-necks, folks), came out and took the stage hostage with their undying energy. They captivated the entire crowd with their synth-rock sound, while lead singer and keyboardist Katie Ostrosky caused jaws to drop with her unbelievable Gwen Stefani-esque vocals. (And let me tell ya, this woman's range is incredible.) Backed by music that resembled a synthesized Weezer with a hint of Supertramp, this combo just couldn't get any better. Leaving room for faux pas, the second band, Buffalo's own Blizzard of '77, reminded the audience that this was their first show ever and to bear with them. Beginning with an electronic noise that sounded like you were being sucked into a wind tunnel, this three-member band created a sound that was like a dirtier version of Radiohead. Their songs varied from angsty rock to placid melodies, and though their lyrics sometimes were unrecognizable, their musical skill was quite solid. After making a few requests from the sound guy, the headliner, Saxon Shore, with no introduction, began to play to the remaining crowd. Set up in triangular form, the three guys -- Matt Doty (guitar), Josh Tillman (drums) and Justin Saxby (bass) -- looked as though they were having a simple band practice, solely focusing on each other and their art. Using a mini-disc player for background noises, they causally morphed into their first song, "Four Months of Darkness", which emitted a relaxed feel over the audience. Their second song, "Amber, Ember, Glow", picked up the pace as Doty played a quick, rhapsodic back and forth melody on guitar while Tillman created a distinct snare drum sound. Though the music sounded pulled together and flowed exceptionally well, you would have never guessed that Doty and Tillman lived on opposite sides of the country and relied on mailing 4-track demos to each other to create their music. They classify their strictly instrumental music as "ambient instrumental indie rock" and could be compared to Sigur Ros. However, I like to think these guys have more of a "breath of life" to their sound. (What can I say? I like the fact that Tillman actually hits the drums at a speed that shows a pulse). "Replacement Driver", which isn't on their latest CD, Four Months of Darkness, was their fourth song that began with a few drumstick hits and then broke into a fast, edgy rock melody. They took a quick and silent break before their last song, another new one not on their album, titled "Secret Fir, Binding Light", that brought their show full circle. Doty created a delicate guitar sound that was broken by moments of vitality creating a very realistic feel and turning an intimate show, even more intimate. Broken into a roller coaster of musical waves that flowed one after the other, each song sounded like a discussion between two people that encompassed a series of different emotions. One minute a fragile conversation and the next a heated argument. Saxon Shore's music undoubtedly resembles a cyclic tune to life. Just as they began so discretely, they ended that way, too. When the fifth song came to a close, I was waiting for the next to begin, but no go. Their set was short and to the point, keeping their mysterious decorum and unassuming image. I may have gone into this show weary eyed, but came out with a newfound hope. All three bands were worth my while, each in their own way. Finding a new band that you wouldn't mind listening to on a regular basis is liable to make anyone want to run into an open field, fall to their knees and let out a cathartic, "YESSSSSSSSSSSS!" This was a night where no Tylenol was needed. Amen.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image