The Cotton Club, Atlanta • May 17, 1999

I was looking forward to this show — I knew almost nothing about the band, except that their debut record, Halfway Down the Sky (Columbia), was produced by Todd Rundgren (a good sign, in my book). It was to be a preview of the new record, in front of the elite of Atlanta’s music industry.

Oh, the glorious and glamorous life of a big-time rock journalist! There was plentiful free food, but I’d eaten before heading out to the show. There was an open bar, but I’d sworn off drinking, still feeling the effects of the night before. Isn’t it ironic?

After the announcement that the bar was temporarily closed, Splender was introduced by the director of marketing for their label — this was a bad sign, in my book. The drum kit had so many cymbals I couldn’t see the drummer (another bad sign). As the band played, we heard a song about David Bowie, and a song introduced as being “about some bitch.” Four strikes, and they’re outta here.

They had a clean, driving bass, crisp harmonies, and perfectly distorted guitars — the kind you get from an expensive effects pedal as opposed to just turning the shit up. In their leather pants and Skechers, they lapped up the enthusiastic applause of their target market. I’d probably say they sounded a lot like Eve6, or Fastball, or Better Than Marcy, or Ezra’s Playground, if I could tell any of those bands apart.

They had an extremely “radio-friendly” sound, and a couple of their songs were actually kind of catchy — it wouldn’t surprise me if their first single, “Yeah, Whatever,” is the Official Alternative Rock Single of Summer ’99. The response from the crowd was great — was it the music or the open bar? You decide. I’m sure Splender will do well enough, either way.

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