Late Saturday night, on the concert scene of San Francisco, ex-Muzik Dizcovery writer Jeff Wilde and I headed down to Bottom of the Hill in order to check out the God is an Astronaut show. The night kept swinging back and forth in terms of fortune, so we didn't really know what to expect after having gotten there an hour and a half early.
The venue itself, though it didn't seem crowded at first, just kept filling and filling. We didn't know if Bottom of the Hill was going to sell out or explode with people, at first. The place was packed with folks that could fit into just about any stereotype, all simply there to listen to God is an Astronaut and have a really great time. When we were standing outside listening to the warm up, since we'd been there so early, it sounded fine, but once we got inside, the monitors sounded pretty bad, to be honest. It was compensated by both the opener and the band blasting through it, but I wasn't too impressed. That, and the total 3 square feet I had to myself at the beginning was shrinking rapidly, much to my dismay. The overall disposition of the crowd, though, was anticipation. It was as visible as it was audible, quiet smalltalk permeating throughout, simply awaiting the stars of the show.
It was this, in addition to the case of the monitors, that caused such a negative reception of the opener. Solo artist Bryan Von Reuter showed up ready to rock the house and prep up for GIAA. However, there was so much background noise and a distinct lack of treble on what he was playing, because from where I was standing, all I could hear is bass, with little to no variety whatsoever. And most of his songs sounded similar - maybe they weren't all bass, but conferring with the people around me, there simply wasn't a lot of differentiation between songs and tonal progression inside those songs. From what I could tell, a lot of it was mixing and remixing of audio samples along to psychedelic live graphics in order to produce an electronic ambient shoegaze show. There wasn't anything really visually or aurally interesting about it, I'm sorry to say, and if the monitors had been better, and the crowd hadn't been so anxious for God is an Astronaut, it might have gone more positively.
The moment things became instantly better is when Jamie Dean walked onto the stage. Even while prepping up for the live show, everyone's attention drove towards the stage intently. As Jamie finished preparing, he began to pound out a heartbursting melody, while the rest of the band slowly began to settle into place, and finally, started to play. The set had a beautifully variable series of tunes, alternating out just enough of the head-banging jams with slower, more meaningful tunes to amplify the power and effect of both. The hardest hitting tunes during the show, in personal opinion, were Age of the Fifth Sun and Zodiac, where the entire crowd was rocking out in their own, personal way. With so much difference between every song, each musician put his all into every second of the show, and the ready-and-willing crowd was swept in, making the live show an absolute success on all accounts.
You can listen to a good amount of the 2010 album, Age of the Fifth Sun, on the band's MySpace, and you can keep up with the band on their website.