This past Saturday Night, local band MyRadio held a CD release party at Roanoke’s own Kirk Avenue Music Hall. Also on the bill were NYC’s Air Traffic Controller and Bleu, out of Boston, MA. In an effort to get more in touch with the local music scene, your intrepid blogger decided to shell out $15 to see 3 bands about which he knew nothing.
First up was Air Traffic Controller. Due to some jackass on 581, I missed the first few minutes of their set. When I arrived, only the singer/guitarist was onstage, performing to surprisingly small yet supportive crowd. Although his guitar style was not my bag, his voice was full of emotion and depth. After two or three songs, he introduced the other members of the band- a cellist, violinist, and viola player. (Violist?)
Over the course of the next 30-45 minutes, the string section really displayed their talent. They were more than just backup, providing the main hooks and riffs for each song, although often to the point that they overshadowed the vocal and guitar lines. It was, in the opinion of yours truly, one of the most original sounds in music today. Never was there a more emotional, technical, tastefully used, and beautiful string section in all of pop music. The songs, while not necessarily radio material, were certainly more “musical” than anything this reviewer has heard of late. As one who reads sheet music, he was even pleasantly surprised to see the string section with music stands and scores on hand.
During the break following ATC’s set, this reviewer had the pleasure of engaging in a conversation with the singer/guitarist, a pleasant young man by the name of Dave. Although the specifics of that conversation have escaped my memory, he explained a little about their current tour, about the other bands, and how he had worked with the singer from Bleu.
Next up was Bleu. Towards the beginning of their set, the singer mentioned that he was raised in Blacksburg, and was excited to be playing so close to his hometown. He even had a couple of friends/family members in attendance.
Expanding on ATC’s sound, Bleu utilized two of the opening band’s members, the cellist and the violist. But Bleu made more use of guitar than ATC had, in addition to distorted vocals, drum loops and other sound effects.
Towards the end of their set, the members of Bleu walked out into the audience and performed 2 songs standing in the middle of the crowd. This gave the performance a cool intimate vibe that was heads and shoulders one of the highlights of the night.
Then it was time for the headliners, MyRadio. The night’s main attraction did not disappoint, turning out to be a boots knockin’ rock band. They had recently had a song, “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” placed in a major film. In addition to this, they had just finished recording their debut album, which was produced by the singer for Bleu.
The first thing that comes to mind when trying to describe MyRadio is rock. The second word is, well, rock. They were very different from the other two bands and were, in the opinion of this blogger, the best act on the bill. The rhythm section was tight, the guitars heavy and distorted, and the vocals a nice, lush tenor. Song titles and lyrics were hard to discern, but the rhythms and guitar solos were not. Many a patron in the by now filled to capacity hall was moved to dance, bob their heads, sing, or any combination of the three.
MyRadio’s cover of Miss You by The Rolling Stones was a highlight of the evening. While Mick Jagger would be a hard one to emulate, the singer did as well as could be expected, which, as it were, was good enough. Original compositions such as “Life is a Bitch Slap” off the new record (which doesn’t come out until later in the month, just FYI) borrowed much from the classic rock stylings of the Stones, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, AC/DC, etc without sounding stale.
As for the venue itself, the show tickets were, perhaps, a “little” overpriced, i.e., there were no drinks or seats available, but the show was overall worthwhile. A dazzling light show danced across the walls and ceilings; the hall began to fill up gradually until there were between 100-150 people in attendance; the acts represented a diverse variety, and the ambiance of Kirk Avenue Music Hall is one of unpretentious class. Highly recommended. This reviewer shall return.