Monday, September 20, 2010

Crooked Fingers at Neurolux

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Music isn't all in the chords chosen or the way notes are arranged. Sometimes the way those notes are played and the background that shapes their delivery, play a much larger role in music's efficacy.

Such was the case with Crooked Fingers, who played Neurolux on Sept. 15. From their very first notes of their soundcheck, it was clear the band, fronted by former Archers of Loaf singer Eric Bachmann, was bringing something special to the stage. The crowd who had sat listless and disinterested through the opening band, surged toward the stage and filled the floor area in rapt anticipation.

The band was a stripped-down two-piece; guitar and a barebones drum set (floor tom, snare, ride and sampler in place of the kick) and their clean, simple pop ballads had a very purposely low-fi vibe that was in fact anything but. Every aspect of the music and sound were perfectly and intentionally crafted around letting the song rather than the instrument shine: Bachmann switched between five different sounding guitars for various songs

The guitar work wasn't overly flashy, just simple chords and riffs with a slightly raw-tone. The minimalist drumming functioned more like percussion than traditional pop drumming, which served to accent the changes in the songs as played on guitar rather than highlight the lack of bass. And the use of samples in place of certain drums gave a slightly spacey modern undertone to the otherwise slightly raw nature of the sound.

But what tied it all together was Bachmann's voice, strong, clear and mournful with the sincerity of Springsteen and the haunting, tenderness of Jeff Buckley. His voice guided listeners through the songs like a film score, always moving and upping the emotional bar.

The notes, the chords, the songs ... They were good. But more than anything else, it was the delivery that kept the crowd mesmerized on a performance without any sort of spectacle.

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