with Sharks and Minnows
.357 Warehouse, Athens, GA • March 12, 2001
It was almost one year to the day since the last time — the first time — I had the pleasure of seeing Elizabeth Elmore perform. A year ago, she was one of the bright lights in an otherwise disappointing South By Southwest. This year, I was to see her and her first post-Sarge band, dubbed the elizabethelmore4, in Athens, but ironically, she would be arriving in Athens direct from Austin, Texas. The venue she played was the .357 Warehouse, which was just that — a small, metal warehouse space adjacent to a paint and body shop at, you guessed it, 357 Oak Street. We both arrived at the warehouse about the same time, both a bit apprehensive about the venue, and only able to catch a glimpse of the opening band, Sharks and Minnows.
Once Sharks and Minnows had finished their set to a small, receptive audience, Ms. Elmore took charge getting her green band ready to play. Of the four members of the elizabethelmore4, only Elmore has actually been on tour. Of course, she’s been on tour almost more than she’s been at home in Chicago the last few years. Once they were ready, off they went into a short but effective seven-song set. Seven songs. Six new numbers written by Elmore, including “Alaskan,” which is one of the strongest things she has ever written, along with “End of July” from the last days of Sarge, and one cover from Sean Na Na. The band worked well together, but there is little doubt who the star is. Elizabeth Elmore has matured from a spastic rock girl with Sarge into a more mature, confident, but admittedly still a bit geeky performer. She was at her most endearing during a lull in the set when she broke a guitar string and was covering the dead space with self-deprecating tour tales.
The seventh song began and ended, as did their set, all too soon, yet this was very much a case of quality over quantity. Anyone expecting Elizabeth Elmore to just be “Sarge Lite” has only to attend one of her shows to realize she has moved beyond the music she created with that band and makes no apologies to anyone for her past, present, or future.