Monday night, I went to Chapel Hill to see Camera Obscura, who were playing at the Local 506. This is a band that I fell in love with when they played two summers ago at the Merge Records 15th year anniversary festival.
I bought Underachievers, Please Try Harder on the spot, and I used it to get me through some really tough times in the following weeks. I was managing a restaurant that opened one day after the end of the Merge Festival. I was working 16 hour days, seven days a week for two weeks solid. I was a complete wreck. I would take solace, though, in coming home after those horrible days, taking a long hot shower, and relaxing with Camera Obscura. I was actually quite miserable back then, but I always felt better listening to CO.
When I saw them on the schedule of Cat's Cradle sponsored events, I almost shat myself. I sort of filed it away, and then I actually almost forgot about it.
A couple of weeks ago, I turned my friend Bill on to Camera Obscura, and we talked about going to the show. Of course we also talked about going to Mogwai, but I chickened out at the last second and missed a hell of a show. Since Bill opted for dinner with the missus and an important dinner guest, I'll do my best to give a concert review. For my money, though, his reviews are far better than I could ever do.
It was a shitty shitty night last night. It was about 35 degrees and raining pretty hard. My friends and I got a cheap dinner beforehand, where I ran into the girl I went to prom with 17 years ago. As I've commented on these pages before, I run into her about once a year, and it's always cool. However, it always reminds me of what a douchebag I was. This is a whole other story, but because I wasn't emotionally ready for any kind of relationship, I pushed her away. About a year later, I realized I had fucked up badly, but it was too late.
Sorry for the digression. Anyway, it was a shitty night, and I felt like ass. I've been fighting off some sort of illness, and I've been sleeping really poorly because I was having lengthy coughing fits at about 2:30 in the morning. My whole head was aching, and I was also a little grumpy on top of that. BUT..... we were going to Camera Obscura. So without further ado (or as my friend Kevin says "adieu"), the review.
When we arrived, the warmup act was on. A Raleigh band named Schooner. At first, they reminded me of Pavement, but later on they reminded me a little of what we decided was Sparklehorse. However, I wasn't really into them. At first glance, it seemed like the typical Local 506 show -- oversold, smoky as hell and hotter than a thousand hells. However, upon further review, it was only the back of the room that was packed. We worked our way up to the front, where there was plenty of wiggle room. Just a few minutes later, Schooner was done with their set.
Camera Obscura opened with a song I didn't recognize. It had a polka/oom-pa/waltz feel too it, and it wasn't bad, but I didn't care too much for it. They transitioned into "Teenager", which imediately made me giddy. Despite the nasty weather, despite my grouchiness and illness, I was HAPPY.
Following that, they played four new songs in a row. The new record will be out in June, and I'm guessing all those songs will be on the new record. I've gotta say that they sounded fantastic. For the rest of the night, it was mostly new stuff, with a little Underachievers and a very little "Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi".
The new songs feature a lot of different percussion, and more than one of them had a motown-y feel. Actually, this isn't new for them, but it seemed more prevalent last night. One of the new songs had this really neat three-part guitar harmony at the end that seemed more like Glasgow 1992 than Glasgow 2006, but I'll take it any day of the week. And twice on Sundays.
About halfway through their set, they got real chatty. My soft spot for a female Scottish accent is well known, so I was digging it. However, Tracyanne wasn't doing much of the talking. Either way, I think it's cool to listen to Scottish people talk. It's hot on a woman, and "cool" on a man. Oh c'mon! Do you really think that Sean Connery would be "cool" if he wasn't Scottish?
Apparently, this was one of only three American cities they're playing on this "tour". They did the SXSW festival in Austin, then the 506, then on to the Knitting Factory. That's it. So we were really lucky to have them. They'll be back in July for a more extensive tour, and you should all go when they come to your town.
They closed their set with "Suspended from Class", which actually didn't sound all that great. Don't get me wrong. I still liked it, but it sounded really flat. The rest of the show wasn't like that, but that one song was.
I didn't really mean for this to happen, but on the way out of the venue, I stopped to say "nice show" to Carey and Lee, and ended up chatting with them for a few minutes. They seemed like awfully nice folks.
I might have talked myself out of going to the show because of the weather, and because I felt like ass. I'm really glad I didn't. Except for a two minute span where I lost my cool, I had a really good time. CO were great, and the new songs kind of blew me away. I can't wait for the new record to come out.
Yo La Tengo And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out