with the Stereo and Lift
The Echo Lounge, Atlanta, GA • April 27, 2000
Roi J. Tamkin
The Echo Lounge played host to a fantastic concert Thursday night, but one would never guess that Atlanta was such a sprawling metropolis by the size of the audience. The three bands played before a total of maybe forty people, including employees of the Echo Lounge. To the credit of the musicians, all three acts played their sets to the hilt, showing that they were real professionals, regardless of the crowd size.
Local ladies Lift opened the show a little after 10 PM. Lift is starting to gain the attention of the major labels, and they used their set as a showcase for some record company reps in the audience. Their set included new songs and a new arrangement of an older song. It also included a drum solo, something I didn’t think alternative bands knew how to do. Towards the end of their thirty minutes, Simone Simonton began pounding away on the skins like she was Buddy Rich while Molly and Julie retuned their guitar and bass. She kept perfect time and rhythm while keeping a wide, gorgeous grin on her face the entire time. Lift play a very intense and self-absorbed show. Molly wove herself into her music while Julie anchored herself with the bass. They kept the banter light and their stage presence low-key. Hopefully, the showcase will turn into a record contract for the trio.
In contrast to the musical finesse of Lift, the Stereo took the stage swinging a Les Paul and a Telecaster and sporting black clothes. The Minnesota four-piece let their presence be known with their loud rock and roll tunes. They managed to bring a group of guys to the stage, and drove out songs from their new release, Three Hundred. The lead singer strutted on stage and poured sweat over his Les Paul. They were a very tight act playing great songs like “Four AM,” “Count Me Out,” and “Ramona” from the new CD. Their half-hour ended way too quickly, but at least by the end of their set, all forty people were up at the stage.
Sense Field opened with a set of songs that proved they knew their Southern California hardcore punk roots. The Redondo Beach quintet blasted out the hardcore to the delight of the crowd, including two punk girls up front that jumped around and screamed like teeny-boppers. But Sense Field is not about hardcore. Singer Jonathan Bunch’s voice is very smooth and melodic, and often contrasts with the 120 beats being pumped out by the band. He doesn’t scream his lyrics, but he places the emotional weight of the songs in his pleading vocals and placating body movements. The band moved away from hardcore to songs that have great pop hooks while maintaining punk energy. Jonathan scissors kicked at the start of a song then paced back and forth like a caged tiger while reaching out with his hand as if he was begging each song to the audience. They did a cover of the Smiths’ “What Difference Does It Make?” and then played songs from the 1996 release Building, including “Different Times,” which still sounds very fresh after four years. I was personally impressed with the chain-smoking bass player, John Stockberger, who had a cigarette ready to go once he dropped the old butt. I never saw him light a cigarette, and after the show, I forgot to ask him where did all the lit cigarettes come from. The band encored with a pair of songs to the delight of the devoted forty fans.
All three acts put on a spectacular performance. It’s unfortunate that Atlantans will not venture out on a weekday night, yet sit at home and complain there’s nothing to do.
Lift has a Web site at www.orangestar.com/lift. Sense Field has a fan based site at www.sensefield.net.