Saturday, March 13, 2010

Concert review: Donora, Savoir Adore, Ennui, Mon Khmer

Donora, Savoir Adore, Ennui, Mon Khmer
Friday March 5, 2010 at Howler's
with Lisa, Spencer, Paul

This was quite the contrast from typical (of what I've seen) Howler's shows. I'm mainly thinking of the Black Hollies show last summer where there were, oh, 5 of us in the audience, passively sitting as they stuffed our ears to the brim with superloud psychedelic rock. This time, Donora rocked the house with their Yinzer dance-pop while a couple people CROWD SURFED. The concert-half of Howler's was more crowded than I've ever even seen the bar-half. What a difference a headliner makes; it's clear that Donora has a local following of friends/fans, since all of their shows are jam-packed or even sold out, and they seem to do a show in Pittsburgh at least once or twice a month. Leigh said she even heard a couple of their songs recently on a local radio station up in Boston. Neato!

We arrived during the first act's set, and spent the rest of the concert trying to figure out their name. I had trouble hearing the singer's words between songs, and there were only 3 acts on the bill but this guitar/drum duo was the first of four performances, so . . . I did manage to hear him say that they were typically a 5-piece band, but 3 members couldn't make it somehow, so they spent some time between songs figuring out exactly which songs they could play as a duo. I was digging their stripped-down sound, with hooky guitar riffs and shoegazy solos backed by upbeat rock percussion rhythms. Their MySpace page has a handful of songs with their full band and they sound a little different. I think I prefer the smaller band versions, actually; they feel more intimate and heartfelt. Oh yeah I just checked the Howler's website now as I'm writing this (a week later) and finally learned their name :-D

Next up was the perfect example of a band that truly fit their name: Ennui. I don't think any of the four of us particularly enjoyed them. I thought the instrumentals were cool, but the singer ruined everything, moaning/mumbling like a depressed drunk ghost into the microphone and almost drowning out the guitar and keyboard. Perhaps this works better in a smaller setting and I'd like to give them a chance, but they definitely didn't fit into the rest of the concert bill.

Savoir Adore played third. They were more in line with the other acts, playing toe-tapping percussive pop with female vocals and jangly guitar/keyboards. The guitarist was bouncing around and bopping his head more than anybody in the audience, too. Check out the videos below for a good sampling of their sound, particularly the music vid for MERP which is so upbeat and fun that it can't fail to make you smile :-)

Donora closed the show in their usual crowd-pleasing fashion and played most of their “hits”, including their cover version of M.I.A.'s “Paperplanes” (see the link below). As I mentioned above, a couple people even crowdsurfed during their set, prompting the singer to remark with a smirk that she did “not condone this”, but clearly they were loving it. They even played an encore! I'm glad to see them practically sell out so many venues around town, and I hope their success continues and sees them playing around the country.

Mon Khmer – Oslo and Anniversary live at Bowery Electric in NYC

Ennui – music video for Time & Place
Ennui – Heard You Say live in Lancaster, PA
Ennui - live recording from this very show!

Savoir Adore – music video for MERP
Savoir Adore – live at a SXSW 2009 house party

Donora – Paperplanes (M.I.A. Cover) live in their attic?
Donora – Saturday Night live at Mercurcy Lounge in NYC

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