Starting their set with what would be described as an empty room, Books Died On played a pleasing set of electro-acoustic pop with delicate male lead vocals and female backup vocals sung over looped drums, a tiny keyboard organ, and acoustic guitars lighter than the breeze. For fans of Onelinedrawing or Owen, Books Died On is worth checking out.
Darling Disarm was next, fronted by soulful-voiced female singer Kayla Brown. They played radio-ready acoustic rock, similar to the better artists from the Lilith Fair movement. The band had some nice country elements at times, and played an enjoyable set.
With the crowd starting to grow, as they always do after the first or second band finish, The Chemicals went on. The thought went through my mind immediately when the first song started that the band sounded like The Pixies, but they also sounded very very good. The lead singer had a quiet voice, but knew enough to emphasize when needed, and the music had an indie-rock edge, but with an obvious pop sensibility that eventually flourishes more and more as bands progress. This band must have found the muse Rivers Cuomo lost after the albatross that was The Blue Album. They finished the set with a great version of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer,” with solos stuffed anywhere they could fit, and then got off so The Beauty Shop could set up.
The last time I saw The Beauty Shop live, the lead singer’s voice had more twang than I could handle, passing the music off as too country or too bumpkin. Tonight was a completely different story because they sounded great. Everything about The Beauty Shop seems simple: the lyrics are usually couplet-based, sung gruff-voiced and backed by an acoustic guitar, drum, and bass set up that comes together in a hyped up country/folk rhythm. Songs are sung from the perspective of the blue-collar worker, like if Springsteen had been from the Midwest, and it all ends up forming a very affecting picture.
With how good tonight’s show was and the lineups of the Fall Showdowns only getting better and better, everyone really needs to check out the remaining shows. As for the Beauty Shop and the Chemicals, I’ll definitely be searching out both of their newest EP releases at Exile On Main Street as soon as possible.