As we all know, summer in Columbia is a somewhat different pace than expected. As the three colleges in town operate on summer schedules, the vibe of the town tends to be slower and more languid. It is in this atmosphere that even a Saturday night can appear much more quiet than it normally would. It was in this atmosphere that a free show went down at the Blue Note last Saturday night featuring local music and one soon to be formerly local band.
I admit that I was running late and missed the first few Vulvette songs. However, what I can affirm was the band was in fine form playing music that draws from old blues, folk, and even torch songs to create a smoky sound fueled by well arranged warm guitars and a sometimes bittersweet feel. Their songs are relatively sparse, delivered without tricks and fancy effects, going for a direct approach in the process that’s actually one of the quartet’s strengths. While the energy has always been there with this band, this had to be the best sounding show I’d heard them play. Whether it’s because of the current band lineup or the PA can be debated, but they definitely rose to the occasion.
Clare Bowman, Kirksville transplant and relative newcomer to the local music scene, held down the middle slot of the night with her backup band the Bathtub Boys. Armed with a piano and her songs, Bowman creates a keyboard based indie pop rock that’s walks the thin line between catchy and introspective. However, I do feel the one song she did with an acoustic guitar was actually the game changer. Yes, her music will likely attract fans of pop radio to some degree but in the right environment she will shine and become much more than that.
As I mentioned a week or so ago in another show review on here, Boreal Hills is leaving Columbia. This was to be their final show. Tonight much of their set was riff based stripped down rock that walks the fine line between punk, indie, and classic metal. While the power was there and the band went at it full throttle, there were some issues that got in the way. Several broken strings and longer than necessary string changes did detract some from the show (still surprised there wasn’t an arrangement with one of the other bands to have a backup just in case – especially with a duo).However, their crowd was up front and drove this part of the show. Still uncertain as to the future of the band (heard Chicago? St. Louis? but this would be the end of an era for this band.
And with that, it was back to the way too quiet streets of Columbia on a summer Saturday night. Still, for those who attended it was a chance to see some artists they might not have taken a chance on otherwise (a sad thought given the variety of music available if you know where to look for it).