Dirty On Purpose
Orlando, Fla. • March 7, 2007
As one half of dreamy indie-pop duo Azure Ray, Maria Taylor caught the attention of everyone from the average coffee shop worker to Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst. Now on the road supporting her second solo effort (Lynn Teeter Flower), the pretty and petite songwriter has a built-in audience who came out in strong numbers for a mid-week show at The Social. Not even viral infections and flu season could stop Taylor and her band from delivering the goods to the Orlando hopefuls.
Walking into the venue halfway through Jacksonville vocalist Christina Wagner’s opening set was surreal. How often have you walked into a bar and found the whole place silent and watching, with rapt attention, an unknown musician playing an acoustic guitar and singing softly? I had to whisper to the bartender to order my Amstel Light, and even that felt like an interruption. Wagner had a luscious voice that complemented her dreamy pop cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang,” but when she attempted to reach Mariah Carey notes on her final tune, her pretty vocal chords sounded strained. No one seemed to mind though, and when she was thanking the crowd and packing away her guitar the audience was asking for more and then flooding her with compliments when she exited the stage.
The next band had a few fanatical followers tied up as well. A pair of enthusiastic followers stood at the foot of the stage singing along to songs that most people had never heard before — they had driven over four hours from Miami for the gig! Dirty On Purpose are a psychedelic indie band from Brooklyn whose sound has hints of The Police as well as the indie big ones (Death Cab, The Decemberists, Yo La Tengo etc…) but whose most interesting trait is that the drummer is one of the two lead singers. His posture is proper, his hand soft with the sticks, as he sings sweet vocals. As great as it was to see the man in back also being the man out front, a drummer obviously can’t move around, so I expected the other band members to help out with keeping the kinetic energy moving. Instead they appeared cemented in place, shoe-gazing throughout the set.
Maria Taylor brought along a band of characters that included her brother Macey and Taylor Hollingsworth (both of Taylor Hollingsworth & The Spider Eaters, a fantastically punk inspired rock outfit from Alabama whose stint opening for The Detroit Cobras recently blew me away). Strange as it was to see the dynamic pair playing dreamy pop music and seemingly in slow motion compared to whirlwind I had witnessed prior, it was a great addition to Taylor’s soft Tanya-Donnelly-meets-Sarah-McLachlan vocal performance.
I found out before the show that virtually every member of Taylor’s band either had the flu or was getting over it. Though she appeared fatigued and sometimes struggling to gain her voice (“I thought I could sing tonight,” she said as she cleared her throat), songs like “A Good Start” and “Lost Time” still sounded gorgeous. I’d like to see what she can do when she’s not on the verge of collapse.
To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.
Maria Taylor: www.myspace.com/mariataylor