The previous week to ten days had brought about a number of changes to Columbia. Recent rains cooled the temperature down temporarily. However,it also marks the change of seasons in all but weather and name as the arrival of students to the town basically ends Summer in preparation of the new school year. As a result, August 20th became a jump start of what’s going on in terms of shows with an upsurge not all that often found during the laid back. languid summer months. With that in mind, I went over to the Blue Note to see what was going on and check out a couple of bands.
Starting things off for the evening was a rare performance from The Unfashionables. The local quartet began things on a slightly unexpected note with a semi lush song that hinted at dance music with a feel similar to Roxy Music. From there, however, the band quickly shifted into a set of uptempo rock that’s one part 90s era alternative rock, one part power pop with a sprinkling a heartland rock over the top. What emerged is a set of music that was radio friendly yet still walked the thin line between the arena and the alternative ennui the band members cut their teeth on. While some of their shows in the past have been mixed, the band utilized the size of the Blue Note’s stage to their advantage and gave off a high energy vibe with stage moves aimed for a larger stage. This was the best show I’d seen from this band who need to perform more often if they can keep this level of live show up.
Spectravox had the middle slot of the night and had a lot to live up to. Tackling songs from their two CDs,the band’s affable take on melodic pop rock owes as much to commercial new wave and stadium rock as to indie or power pop. With mildly overdriven guitars as a driving force, the band’s quirky songs came across decently enough but faltered slightly at this show in part due to the band they followed on the bill. The highlight was the few songs when frontman Sam Botts strapped on his Explorer and upped the crunch level a bit for a dual guitar melodic rock sound that added an edge the band needed. Melodic, and a bit humorous at times, Spectravox’ music walks a tightrope that is either too melodic for underground rock fans or too quirky for mainstream rock fans at times. However, the people on the floor got it and had a good time which is what matters when a band plays for the most part.
Unfortunately, due to another situation I had to check out that night, I wasn’t able to see the headlining set from local part 80s cover band Disengaged. Thus, I cannot comment on their set but hopefully will get a chance to see them somewhere down the road and check them out for myself.
As I left the Note for other parts of Columbia, I took in the warm weather and the semi chaos that’s part of life in a college town. Between the new students beginning to get their footing in a situation that cna be both exciting and frightening at the same time (we’ve all been there) and the general letting off of steam before the start of the fall semester the following Monday, there was a lot going on after a summer that was slower than some of us expected. Thus is the circle of life in a town like Columbia and the return to the feel that makes it what it is.