Thursday, October 16, 2008

Plants And Animals, Nurses, Born Ruffians Played The Bottom Of The Hill

Last night was a good night for music at The Bottom Of The Hill. Plants and Animals, along with Portland's Nurses and fellow Canadians Born Ruffians, played to a crowd that was highly appreciative of what each band had to offer.

Nurses opened the night with an extremely respectable set of psych-pop that centered around layered vocals, guitars and synth lines. There was definitely a hint of Animal Collective influence in the mix, but largely the band defined their sound and made it their own

Plants and Animals were up next, and for our money, this was the set of the night. The trio played a shorter set than when they were at The Rickshaw Stop, but it was equally full of energy and dynamics.

As a trio, this band does a masterful job at recreating the many layers of sound on their records. Much of this is due to the face that all three band members are technically masterful on their instruments: Nicolas Basque easily holds down 2-3 instruments over the course of a song, Matthew Woodley provides all sorts of percussive accents, and Warren Spicer's vocals and guitar simply slam home the band's energy.

The really amazing thing about Plants and Animals is that they leverage all of this well-honed technicality to create a show that seems completely reckless. The band's ability to keep a handle on things is so solid that the bursts at the seams, and yet never loses its place. In particular, the version of "Faerie Dance" last night was off the charts.

Born Ruffians certainly had the crowd rearing to go before their set, and once things got going the devout just got more excited. While the band was spot-on technically, and certainly roped in the crowd with an enthusiastic performance, it just wasn't our cup of tea.

The melodies were a bit simplistic, and the off-kilter beats seemed like they had been recycled from elsewhere. We're also pretty vocal-centric around here, and Luke Lalonde's vocals were a tad on the reedy side for our taste. Case in point: he covered a Dylan song ("The Man In Me") and actually managed to sound more reedy than Dylan. That's reedy, folks. Don't get us wrong: the band delivered a solid live set, and if you are digging their tunes, don't hesitate to see them live. They certainly deliver.

As we mentioned above, Plants and Animals were far and away the highlight for us last night. The other bands made good on their performances, but Plants and Animals are so evidently a band that is on the cusp of blowing up, that it was difficult to watch them leave the stage. We're psyched to have them back in San Francisco so soon after their last show, but we're hoping next time it will be as a headliner.