Sunday, November 22, 2009

Land Of Talk and Surprise Me Mr. Davis Played Mercury Lounge - Pictures, Review

On Saturday night, HAD stopped in at Mercury Lounge to catch a show that was so well attended it could have qualified as a double bill. Granted, the sell-out crowd was targeted soundly at Land Of Talk's return to New York City, but that didn't mean that openers Surprise Me Mr. Davis didn't manage to draw in quite the crowd of their own as well. In short: it was a packed night at the Mercury Lounge, and with good reason.

Surprise Me Mr. Davis delivered a set that both opened and closed with some killer a capella tunes. However, that unique facet was just one of the many that filled the set, which traversed genres of American music in a way that was so rapid that it was almost tough to follow. The band had tunes that ranged from dirge-y folk, to pop songs, to soulful ballads. In short, just about anything you could ask for.

Delving into such a diverse set could have it's downsides, with the potential to come off painfully wedding band-ish. Luckily for Surprise Me Mr. Davis, this was resoundingly not the case: the band not only has obscenely proficient technical chops, but they also have an energy and charisma that completely won over the crowd. Had we not known that Land Of Talk was on deck, we could have been easily fooled into thinking these guys were the headliners. In short: see them live, you'll thank us for it.

Land Of Talk took to the stage as a four piece, but the change was only momentary: within one song they were at their typical three piece lineup to deliver a killer set. Over the course of the next hour or so, the band delivered almost the full breadth of their catalog without a single lag in energy. The band was playing to a crowd that was clearly enthralled, and many of the tracks from their full length LP were even more energetic than on record.

Much of that energy was rooted in the fact that the band creates an extremely vital live sound. Between Liz Powell's electric guitar work, and a completely solid lock in between the bass and drums, the band was ended up far bigger than you might typically expect from a trio. This visceral feel played out extremely well on the tracks from the band's first EP, which lends itself even more readily to a locked in rock show.

Despite the band's clear ability to rock out, the show was not without its tender moments. Powell's vocals are unquestionably beautiful, and the band wisely showed the restraint to let them come rise to the top when needed. Those moments served not only to illustrate the band's dynamics, but also the breadth of the songwriting involved. In short, by any measure, be it performance, virtuosity, songwriting, or crowd enthusiasm, a Land Of Talk live show is a do-not-miss event. While we'll certainly be there next time, we're guessing it's going to be in a much larger room.

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive

mp3: Land Of Talk - Troubled
Stream: Surprise Me Mr. Davis - Demo EP


Anonymous said...

I think it was double bill actually. This was the only night of the run that Land of Talk played last. Both awesome bands.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Surprise Me Mr. Davis headlined all of the other shows on the tour. They're absolutely incredibly. GO SEE THIS BAND!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review, I LOVE Surprise Me Mr. Davis and was sorry to miss this tour. Hopefully they'll tour lots in 2010!