03/24/2010 – Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC

Cross-posted from GiveMeTheLights.com

My friend Seth and I were pumped to finally see Tally Hall live. Back in college, through a chance encounter with their Banana Man music video, we became instant fans. Fast forward to March 2010…we’d been fans for 5 years and Tally Hall was coming to North Carolina for the first time (as far as we knew)! I was even wearing a surgically-modified Banana Man shirt for the occasion!

Speaking of firsts, this was also my first show ever at Local 506. It was a venue I’d heard a lot about but never been to. It was a small venue, with a bar at the front and the stage at the back. Seth went immediately to some raised seats that were along the wall. I tend to stand during shows, but I figured at least for the opening bands sitting wasn’t such a bad idea.

Skybox kicked off their set just after 9pm. Seth and I were immediately thankful that we’d thought to bring earplugs — holy crap was it loud! Take it from someone who’s been to her share of concerts, both big and small and everything in between. This concert was LOUD.

I hadn’t done any research into the opening bands for this show, so all of my first impressions were fresh and unadulterated. Unadulterated. That’s a strange term to use, but I’m sticking with it. The first thing I noticed about Skybox was the crazy energy that emitted from their keyboardist. If you can’t make your keyboard spin (a la Gowan), the next best thing is to move yourself around your stationary keyboard as much as possible. He was really into the music and I always appreciate that in a performer.

The music was good. They definitely sound like a young, fresh, and unpolished band…which is probably what they are. They have some really interesting quirks that keep the music from sounding like everyotherband and I think that’s what makes them such a great match for Tally Hall. One of the weirder ones (and probably my favorite) was a song called Various Kitchen Utensils which starts out with an old-timey keyboard piece leading into a whimsical pop song.

While all of the bands that night had some interesting stage banter (gotta love stage banter), Skybox was unique in the seemingly planned awkwardness. The bassist started off by telling everyone that he was fired from his day job, but he didn’t care because he was in a band. He looked to the guitarist for some kind of response, but he basically just stood there and looked at him. It’s as if the bassist was trying to keep things afloat with the audience and the guitarist was happy to stand in silence and tune his guitar. It was awkward, like I said, in a humorous way.

Oh, and their last song was really loud. Like, the speakers were turned up even louder than they already had been. The wooden bench Seth and I were sitting on was literally vibrating!

Jukebox the Ghost was the next band to perform that night. While they were setting up, Seth and I saw their little cartoon ghost mascot that decked out their drum set. We recognized that it resembles the Canadians on South Park, with the small circular eyes and the mouth that goes all the way across his face. I also tried to determine what the name actually meant. “Jukebox the Ghost” could be a phrase, or a sentence. Is “jukebox” decidedly a verb? What is it to jukebox something? Or is the ghost’s name “Jukebox”?

Their set started a little after 10pm. The band was made up of 3 members: A keyboardist/vocalist, a guitarist/vocalist, and a drummer. The keyboardist appeared to be the primary vocalist, and I have to say this guy won me over pretty quickly. I’ve noticed there are lots of opinions about who this guy sounds like — and here’s my formula: Combine Ben Folds with Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips) and Freddie Mercury (Queen), then add a dash of Weird Al Yankovic. His vocals had a huge range, and went from low to high in a second. The singing style was also very unique, with quirky notes added here and there. All along though there was an element of dramaticism that makes me love bands like Queen and Styx. So yeah, I basically really loved this band.

The element of humor in their set was stellar as well. At one point they were asking if we were having a good Wednesday night. The response was positive, but sort of muted. “Kind of a crappy Wednesday night, eh?” Then a man in the back of the audience yelled out “WOOOOO!!” in a really funny way. Someone also called out that they followed the band on Twitter, to which the band responded “That has to be the geekiest thing called out from a crowd, ever.”

They also announced that they were releasing a new album soon, but they didn’t have a release date yet. Someone up front asked the keyboardist to guess, and he responded “I dunno…9:30. We don’t know the date but it’ll be at approximately 9:30.” 😀

Around 11pm Tally Hall’s stage was being set up. By this point in the evening, the front of the venue was filling up with people. My original wish to stand up front was not so strong now that I had all of those people to contend with. Plus, our seats were kind of nice…being a short girl, raised seats allowed me to see over the sea of heads and get semi-decent pictures. So, I elected to stay seated with Seth.

The 5 guys came out around 11:15pm. I was so excited to finally see them perform live! Following is their set list…

  1. Out in the Twilight
  2. Ruler of Everything
  3. You and Me
  4. Good Day
  5. The Trap
  6. Greener
  7. Misery
  8. Cannibal
  9. Never Meant to Know
  10. The Bidding
  11. Taken For a Ride
  12. Who You Are
  13. Life in a Cube by Casey Shea
  14. The Whole World and You
  15. Cecilia Simon & Garfunkel cover

Something I’d discovered the day of the show was that Joe, the guy with the Red Tie and the lead singer for some of their songs, was not on this tour due to unforeseen circumstances. He was being replaced with a guy named Casey Shea, who wore a black tie. I have to admit I was sad to hear this…Joe seems like a real character and he’s probably very entertaining on stage. However, Casey did a really good job of filling his shoes. He’s got lots of talent and, while I still would have liked to see Joe there, I think he did a good job of filling in. I just want to see Joe back next time 🙂

Their set was a fair mix of songs from their first album (all of which I’ve known by heart for years) and new songs from their upcoming album (which I’d briefly sampled before the show). It was all great! The performances were really tight, even though I’m sure it was a challenge to get Casey up to speed on such short notice. They really sounded awesome. Despite the low lighting I was able to get some good shots of the band; unfortunately I never had a good angle to capture Ross (the drummer) so he is absent from the photos 🙁

Before they started playing their new song Cannibal, the band announced that they were playing two more new songs, then they were going to do something “completely different.” Of course this piqued our curiosity! After Never Meant To Know, they turned on a pre-recorded message as they began to unplug their equipment. The announcement went something like this (paraphrased):

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming to Local 506. Tally Hall will now be playing from the floor. Please turn to the back of the venue and sit down. If the floor is dirty, as floors tend to be, Tally Hall will be distributing free butt protectors for your convenience. Remember though, the best butt protector of all…is in your heart.

This little announcement had me and Seth laughing so hard! Then immediately after the audio ended, one of the band members apologetically admitted they were out of butt protectors. They pulled some tarps off of some equipment which had been hidden to my right…an extra drum kit, some microphones and even some lamps for lighting.

This was the best part of the show! Our seats had us with a pretty good view of this mini-set. It was more or less acoustic, and since the band was among all of us it just felt like a huge party. We sang along with The Bidding, and clapped along to The Whole World And You. The final song was a really fun version of Cecilia by Simon and Garfunkel with Jukebox the Ghost and Skybox participating. The entire audience (including some of the older crowd) belted out all of the lyrics as we clapped along to the beat. I had work the next day, but when the show had ended I’d wished there was more!

On the way out, people were stopping and talking to various members of the band. I waited patiently until I was able to say a few words to Zubin, who just happened to be the most accessible member at the time. I wanted him to know how glad I was that they’d finally come to NC, and that they really needed to come back! He said they would, when they were promoting their new album release! He also complimented me on my “nicely torn” shirt (haha) and apologized for not playing Banana Man. I told him it was cool, they have other good songs too 😉

Overall I had a terrific time…what a great show! I really look forward to seeing them come through town again!

To view my pics from that night, click here!

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