Thursday, September 12, 2013

Live Review: A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, The Ottobar (8/14/13)

On a Topshelf Records lineup dominated by emo bands, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves is a bit of an oddball. In contrast to the raw emotion of Pianos Become The Teeth or the ambient twinkly soundscapes of The World Is A Beautiful Place, the band embraces a far more accessible indie pop sound. With a knack for massive hooks while surrounding them with multilayered harmonies and sophisticated guitar parts, the band actually has the greatest potential for overall success on the Topshelf roster. If they keep cranking out on performances like their recent gig at the Ottobar, they should top the Topshelf food chain in no time.

The band kicked things off with the new album You're Always On My Mind opener "Snack Attack," a perfect beginning to a set as the entire crowd got into it from the second the opening hums ended. Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex opener "Alligator Bop" had opened both of the band's previous two sets I'd seen in the past, and the band didn't wait long to bring it in back to the set, moving straight into it once "Snack Attack" ended. The upbeat "Pet Mouse" seemed to have more life than in previous live viewings, and allowed both bassist Tucker Yaro and guitarist Matt Fazzi to show off their harmonizing vocal talents.

While live staple "workeatsleep" seemed to have finally been dropped from the band's set, don't think that the band is beginning to shun their old material. In fact, "User's Guide To A Coloring Book" was used as the instrumental intro into new track "Flying Fish," showing the band's confidence in combining all of their material into a strong set. It was somewhat surprising that they only took five songs from the new album to put into the set, but as time moves forward and they have time to perfect live versions of other songs we should expect You're Always On My Mind to take control of the set.

A Great Big Pile Of Leaves showed the ability to pull off some of the more difficult musical parts of their music live, but no time made that as obvious to the crowd as "Race Car Driving." The instrumental track contains a massive ritardando, repeating the same two rhythms while slowing down to nearly a stop. The band may have slowed it down even further than the recorded version goes while still seamlessly transitioning into the upbeat "Meet Me At The Mall, Bring Your Swim Trunks." For a band that at times can be extremely technical, the band had plenty of energy throughout the set. Matt Fazzi seemed to have learned something about energy from his previous position with Taking Back Sunday, but even the calmer other members showed the ability to show charisma and control the audience. All the ingredients are there for a dominating live performance, and A Great Big Pile Of Leaves easily puts them together. The bigger tours continue to come for them, and all things considered they are turning into an absolute beast of a band.


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