Now It’s Overhead
with Summerbirds In The Cellar and The Heathens
The Backbooth, Orlando, FL • Aug. 5, 2006
Opening for Athens, GA indie rockers Now It’s Overhead three years ago proved to be a fortuitous night for Orlando favorites Summerbirds In The Cellar. Not only did they find a producer for their debut album, With the Hands of the Hunter It All Becomes Dead, in vocalist Andy LeMaster, but they began a friendship and collaboration that would eventually lead to half of Summerbirds joining up as part of LeMaster’s band. Brad Register (vocals/guitar) and Curtis Brown (guitar/keyboard) have spent the last six weeks touring as part of Now It’s Overhead and have finally come home to do a series of Florida dates doing double duty, as Summerbirds opens all shows. Their Orlando homecoming was a highly anticipated event made even more so by the added bonus of the new Now It’s Overhead’s Orlando debut.
Backbooth was packed as openers The Heathens started off the night with their countrified Alterna-rock. Their Post Records debut Big White House has already stirred up some noise in the Central Florida scene aided, by the terribly catchy tune “Stickin’ Around.” The eclectic young band has a banjo player, and a violinist (though he was sick and couldn’t perform this particular night) in their mix, which combined with vocalist Matt Butcher’s unique twang give The Heathens a signature sound that’s all their own. As they ended their set, a fan made her way onto the stage with a birthday cake for Butcher, who encouraged her to smash it into his young face.
You can never go wrong with a Summerbirds In The Cellar show. They seem to have scanned the local music circuit for the best players and formed a super group that not only impresses with its skills, but elevates the mind with its spacey, electronic compositions. Think The Postal Service, or The Jesus and Mary Chain with heavier guitars.
This August night they were so “on” it was ridiculous. The small club was packed to the tiniest of crevices to show the band some big love. Rumor has it that the rest of the band will be joining frontman Brad Register (who’s currently living with LeMaster) in moving to Athens, and so every cheer or round of drinks bought for the band (bottles of beer, and lines of shots kept lining the stage while they played) spoke a cry of “we love you, you’re ours, don’t leave.” After a pounding set that included “Behold the Wolf,” the band took a celebratory downing of their shots and then plunged into a fuzz-filled final song that left the crowd begging for more.
With no time to catch a breath, Register and Brown returned to the stage with Now It’s Overhead. Headed by the young producer who on his last album chalked up Michael Stipe and Conor Oberst as guests, the band flies with more “ummph” these days. Two years ago I saw the band open for The Killers and their sound was more rich in folk-pop. This time around the quartet shredded guitars and LeMaster jumped off of the bass drum with an energetic confidence that felt fresh. The crowd had thinned out a bit by the time the headliners went on (it was after 1 am before the first song began), but those who remained sang along, at the foot of the stage, with the obviously surprised LeMaster. Giving the fans what they asked for, they finished up with an encore of the much requested “Blackout Curtain.”
All three bands stuck around after to chat with friends and fans, before heading into the downtown night to continue the party at neighborhood bars. I asked Brad if his and Curtis’ presence in NIO means an end to Summerbirds to which he answered a definite “NO!”
“Good”, I told him, “because your band is too damn good to stop playing.”
Now It’s Overhead: www.nowitsoverhead.com