January 27, 2004

Pelican outdoes headliner Appleseed Cast despite lighting, Parliament fog

Ivan: So there were two opening bands we conveniently missed. Do you remember what they were called?

Evan: The first was Chin-Up Chin-Up, which "insulted the audience's intelligence," according to one person in attendance. According to the same audience member, the other band, the Cougars, "were like the grounds left behind after a terrible cup of coffee—the coffee was bad, but the grounds are just useless." It looks like having trouble parking saved us. Thankfully, we arrived just in time for Pelican.

Ivan: Yeah, thank god for Wrigleyville. Anywho, Pelican was incredible, way better than when I saw them with Melt Banana at the Elbo Room last year, but not nearly as good as that Isis show I wish I could've gone to.

Evan: Isis be damned. I can usually only stand doom metal for the time it takes to load a gun and kill myself (as instructed by the bands). For those trapped outside the lexicon of WHPK, doom metal is that slow, dark dirge piping from the upper floors of Shoreland. But Pelican mixes in undistorted melodies, evocative of American Football, Cap'n Jazz, or perhaps their instrumental spin-off Ghosts and Vodka (all three of which are Midwestern indie rock bands—unlikely partners in doom).

Ivan: It's OK, though. Pelican isn't really doom metal. Pelican is hip enough that I think most of the people reading this could get down to them. I mean, they're not as a certain WHPK DJ described them—"a cross between the instrumental parts of Tool and the instrumental parts of Creed"—but they're closer to that than say, Sleep or Electric Wizard. I bet they'll sound even better on Wednesday playing with Mono and Pedal Steel Transmission, an awesome instrumental band from Chicago like Explosions in the Sky or Do Make Say Think.

Evan: Pelican's Wednesday show is at the Fireside Bowl. It should rock just as hard as the Metro show except without the idiotic lighting. What was with that anyway?

Ivan: I kinda liked the lighting, actually. It was very, uh, how do you say, Kiss?

Evan: And the smoke machines were very, uh, how do you say, asphyxiating?

Ivan: Dude, I think that was just the hipster Parliaments clogging up your lungs. We're not really talking about the music even; this sounds like a Pitchfork review. Pelican really did rock, though. When they were heavy, it was cohesive; you could close your eyes and sway to the music. And the quiet parts made for good suspense, ‘cause you knew they were gonna explode any minute. Good thing all their songs were like 10 minutes long.

Evan: For the last song, the lead guitarist played his Gibson SG with a violin bow. It was a show-stopper. Or it should have been. Appleseed Cast should not have headlined—or even played. Slightly less than half the audience had left by the middle of their set.

Ivan: Including us. Seriously though, that same audience member you quoted at the beginning described them as "a mix of Sunny Day Real Estate and Sigur Rós," which they definitely weren't. More like all the flaws of Sunny Day and none of the good stuff of Sigur Ros. And I like Sunny Day

Evan: I think the first song's chorus was, "I love you/I will be your friend forever." What is that crap? This band has a saccharine, monomaniacal fixation on love—an unintentional parody of "emo." Each song had the same formula: slow build to euphoria. Had this been new, it still would have been clichéd by the third song.

Ivan: Yeah, the saddest thing was that all the guys in that band are like 30. I bet they're all married, too, which makes the whole "every song is about breaking up with my girlfriend" thing kinda hard to stomach.

Evan: The moral of the story is: GO SEE PELICAN ON WEDNESDAY.

Ivan: And listen to my show "Complication" on Tuesday night from 12:00-2:00 a.m. on 88.5 FM so you can win tickets to it. You don't even have to pay to go see them! Come on, honestly, can Bar Night beat that?!

Evan: No.