Power-pop invades the Old Main Pit

It’s 7:30 p.m. and the fans are waiting, sitting on various ledges and edges as they look up at the semi-propped stage that is the steps of Austin Hall. Taking a different angle on this Old Main Pit show, the band is set up on the porch of the building. The drum set situated in the doorway looking out, the drummer adjusts his set. There are a few seconds of guitar chords, a few taps on the snare, a couple “check mic, one two” as Ivoryline ran through their sound check.

The crowd, overpopulated with girls decorated in skirts and those scene girl ballerina shoes, hang back from the steps. This pit show, put on by Program Council, is the second of their Best of Both Worlds Concert series. Every first Tuesday there will be a show, either rock or country, at the Old Man Pit. This week, luckily, was the alternative line up.

Ivoryline stood waiting for their introduction before they began. This Hard Rock-Electronica-Powerpop group has been together for a year and half, but Jeremy Gray, Dusty Kittle and Robert Woodward, began the band three years ago beginning under then name Dead End Driveway.

At the start of their second song “Parade,” Gray beckons the crowd forward to the edge of the steps. Without hesitation the crowd moves as one at his command. Several boys break into a mild mosh pit, forcing the girls in skirts to jump out of the way.

As the song builds up, Woodward holds his hands up high indicating for the crowd to clap along. The climax builds with sustained notes until it reaches the revelation of the song. Woodward hops around on one foot, knees squeezed together, while maintaining a solid bass line. Socia and Woodward cover all areas of the stage. They thrash their guitars around to Hart’s power pop beat. By the third piece, the phrase “high stage quality” is written all over their show.

It was their fifth song, “Take Every Chance” that the crowd really felt. The melodic intro had a different tone than the last four pieces. Woodward’s bass tones, which could be felt in the cavity of your chest, were completed by the driving rhythms of Kittle and Socia. Hart’s beat, worked out on five symbols, was kept up by the guitarists.

“All You Ever Hear” which was their last song, lead us in with a slower tune. It was slightly dark and played by Kittle alone. He was soon joined by the click of Hart’s sticks and met with Woodward in his own bass line. Socia, whose back was to the crowd, turned around and jumped in. The song eventually became a tap-your-feet-to-the-beat type song. Gray whipped around his boom stand to the stop and start flow of the music. He wrapped the chord of his microphone around his neck and watched on during the instrumental. Getting down once again to his knees he engulfed the microphone with his mouth as he finished off with the last of the lyrics.

Usually drawing a crowd anywhere from, 75-200 people, Auto Escape took the scene. They frequently play in Dallas but have also appeared in a few clubs in Austin. Houston will be a stop on their tour in the near future.

After experiencing every sound problem possible, this Dallas band hit it off with their song “White Rose.”

Grant Pittman, playing a Yamaha MOTIFCO, begins the song on keyboards. Donnie DeBoer, casually sings the first few lines. He plays a retro reverb on his Fender Telecaster. Little brother, Nathie DeBoer, taps out a simple beat on his DW drum kit.

Matt Melton, on a four string Fender blues bass strapped high on his chest, colors the sound. Donnie DeBoer, closes his eyes and sings the tune to all the women in the crowd.

An electronic harmony flows from Pittman’s Alesis-ION synthesizer, which is stair stepped above the keyboard. The crowd offers cheers as the last note rings out into the night.

Without a second breath, they begin the next song. The tempo slows down a little as DeBoer coaxes hard notes from his Telecaster. There is a bold broad sound from the bass and keyboard. As the song flows through, one can tell that they are clearly succeeding at making this sound their own.

On the third song Pittman abandons the keyboard to take up his Epiphone Sherton guitar. His electric playing and keyboard style coincide with similarities. Melton, who seems glued to his spot in front of the drums, rocks backward and forward to Nathie DeBoer’s beat. What they lack in the stage presence they make up it on number four has more powerpoppy than the last. DeBoer, bangs now plastered to his forehead, closes his eyes and sings ‘Backseat Driver Waiting for an Exit Sign.’

Their fifth song ‘Falling Asleep in the Snow’ brought smiles to the faces of the crowd. The tone was as milky as the color of his bass, as Melton played a more bluesish bass style.

As the song before it, their next song was bold, lively, smooth and catchy. It was a song that could easily be a hit on the radio. The steady rising of the guitars, the crashing of the symbols, the break down and the climax colliding took the crowd for a ride. “Keep crashing down the waves!” DeBoer repeated, bringing on yet another peek, followed by silence and the inevitable sound of cheers.

Their title song “Turn if off” was described by DeBoer (between gasp for air) as “Waking into reality and realizing your not an adult yet your not a kid. You just don’t know where you are.” Varying from 3/4 to 4/4 time they sustained their anthem in the melody. Backed by keyboards, the guitar part was little more juvenile sounding when compared to the other songs. The drums were also more prevalent.

Introduced by an interesting 4/4-6/8 synthesizer melody, they began their final song ‘Dying Wish.’ DeBoer took off in his own interpretation of the melody on his guitar. This song was stronger, louder, and more rock style with forceful sustained chords and a wah wah effect on the synthesizer. “Only wish is that it won’t let you downOnly chance we ever have, don’t let go” he begs. The music calms, with the refreshing feel of stepping into the cold rain, as the DeBoer screams “Wake up!” and concluded the song.

These two north Texas bands were a site to see and hear at the Old Main Pit show last night. Thanks to Program Councils, Sam students can catch bands like this every Tuesday for the next few months.

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