The Earl, Dec. 13 -- The image of Steve "Six Million Dollar Man" Austin leaping over a 10-foot fence has become a calling card of sorts for Atlanta trio I Almost Saw God in the Metro. The image, an endless video loop projected onto the group's bass drum during live performances, is not just eye candy -- it's an allegorical take on the music.
As the scene plays out over and over again, the awkwardness of it all is intensified. Yesterday's vision of the future, with man and machine merging into one righteous superpower, never came to fruition. But IASGITM's organic and mechanical parts attempt to get the balance right. Friday night at The Earl, the group's position, sandwiched between Jackonville, Fla.'s Cadets and Atlanta's Silent Kids -- acts that place human sentiment at the forefront -- emphasized the mechanics that make up all three groups.
Three-fourths of the Cadets got the night in motion around 10:30 p.m., performing an hour-long set of guitar and vocal harmonies. Though they're normally a quartet, the drummer's absence made the Cadets' sound like a tree-hugging take on indie-rock -- somewhere between Pavement and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Three wide-eyed guys strumming acoustic guitars and singing about their daily routines is about as inoffensive and adaptable as opening acts come, and the Cadets played the role well.
Soon, members of IASGITM took their places behind a wall of keyboards. Band regulars David Noel (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Wynn Muse (drums), plus Zach Hollback standing in for regular keyboardist Blake Helton, delved into a mixed bag of influences. Songs like "The Silkworm Threads Its Way" and "Surveillance," from the group's self-titled debut, recall the heady paranoia of Cabaret Voltaire and Joy Division, while "Flies Caught in Amber" and "I Saw the Future (Going Downtown)" embrace the artful throb of Wire, Love and Rockets, and early Public Image Ltd. Seeing the songs played live only amplified the murkiness holding each one of them together.
Having functioned as a group for less than six months -- tonight's show being only its fourth -- IASGITM has established itself in record time. On stage the group's presence congeals like that of seasoned professionals. Noel's impenetrable energy as he sings and alternates between guitar and keyboard -- sometimes managing all three at once -- is as unwavering as the loop of Steve Austin unfolding behind him.
The Silent Kids closed the show, running through a set of eclectic songs from the group's debut full-length, Tomorrow Waits (to be reissued by local label Two Sheds in February), and a cover of the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat." The intelligent and emotionally charged material was littered with elements of space rock. Bassist Jeff Holt and frontman Michael Oakley (guitars, vocals, keyboards) took turns on vocal duties while keyboardist Beth Kargel rocked a tambourine, a laptop and a Theremin over Scott Rowe's percussions.
As headliners, the Silent Kids performed to the evening's largest crowd, members of which got treated to a face full of smoke as Oakley pulled out a smoke machine during the last song.
All three acts excelled, but it was IASGITM's vision of man and machine that left a lasting impression. Harnessing such a powerful presence in such a short time seems an inhuman feat. Perhaps the group has the balance right already. Only the future knows.
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
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