On Friday evening, March 28, 2003, four bands took the stage at the small Club 180 in Lancaster, PA. Due to my work schedule, I could not make it in time for the opening act, a local band whose name I do not know. However, I did get there in time to see the beginning of another local act, Rough Draft. Well, I like to think well of local acts, but I could tell one song into the concert that these guys were not the best. So, being the always hungry and thirsty male that I am, I wandered over to the cafe in the same building. They had speakers in there so I could still hear the music. The main thing that stuck out to me about their music was that their female lead singer tries hard to sound like Evanesence. And that she has trouble staying in
the same key as the rest of the band.
Evelyn Hope was up next and I finished my pizza and fries in time to see them. I had no clue what to expect from them. All I knew was that they feature an ex-member of Element 101, who rocks my socks off. So my expectations were simultaneously high and low. Well, they took the stage and just blew me away. They have a great sense for songwriting and the talent to pull it off. Because of the not so great sound mix in the room I couldn’t hear the vocals well, but the guitars were
fantastic. The lead guitar player knows how to play well. From what little of the vocals I could hear, I couldn’t tell if they were just singing, or trying to sound a bit emo. Regardless, great song structure and execution made them a wonderful surprise.
Up next was the band I had come to see, Me Without You. They play music that has some stylistic leanings toward Fugazi, and take an emo twist. Now, what sets Me Without You apart from every other “emo” band is that you get the sense that they aren’t trying to be “emo” but just trying to create art. And they are amazingly solid live.
Their lead vocalist is a “free spirit,” so to speak. He doesn’t bind himself with the constraints of singing when he’s supposed to. Instead of standing there, singing everything perfectly the way it is on cd, he moves around. So he may not make it back to the mike when he’s suppose to be singing. If he misses half a line he’ll either not sing it, or rephrase it, or just rush it in. Which makes sing-a-longs
impossible. Yet it works. (And I suspect that he could sing along the way he does on cd if he wanted to, but that it would sap all of the emotion and improv feeling of the music out and make it dead.)
The band (two guitar players, a bass player, and a drummer) is as solid as a rock. They don’t pay attention to their vocalist’s “inconsistencies” with singing. They are tight and know their music inside-out. The bass player is stoic. He doesn’t change expression at all during the entire set. No smile. But he always looks pleasant and like he really really enjoys being up on stage. The lead guitar player (the singer’s brother) has a “Beatles” look to him. But his playing is tight and doesn’t miss a
thing, even when he’s down on the ground.
All in all, a great evening. If you get a chance to see Me Without You (or even Evelyn Hope) live sometime, treat yourself and see what it’s like.