So I got invited to got to a private viewing of a UK band Your Vegas Universal Republic was show casing last night at the Gibson showroom down by Quest Field. Which BTW, did anybody else know on the second floor of 159 Jackson in Pioneer Square there is a Les Paul/Gibson showroom which has just about every badass Gibson or Epiphone made handing on the walls like a frigg’n shrine to Les Paul? Really nice set up.
Anyways, I ran into the bass player Jon Langford right off the bat before they went on and chatted it up with him. We seemed to hit it off and he told me their from Leeds, UK and their on tour with the Bravery for about a month or so. Which is cool. And that they toured all over Europe for a while before they all moved to the states. And that they lived in NY for a bit and gave a demo to an entertainment attorney which in turn slipped it to a Universal exec who told him “if I like it, I’ll call you tomorrow, if I don’t you’ll never hear from me”. He must have like it cuz he called the attorney the next day. He also told me that when they showed up that afternoon to the Gibson showroom they had no guitars with them and they were told to pick whatever they wanted off the walls… Holy shit… So the band has had some good luck right, most bands from the states don’t get picked up at all much less to get Universal to sign them within the first couple years, so I figured it was probably going to be pretty good.
They spent a while sound checking and warming up which the sound guy/girl (there were two) never really got it right. And while the place filled up with about 30 people or so, several of us kept wandering around gawking at the ridiculous display of guitars and bumped into each other saying, “did you know this place was here? I had no idea!”. There was free beer and wine with gourmet burgers and spring rolls. And just before they started to play I grabbed a can of Miller High Life (cuz I like to live the High Life and nobody else was drinking it) only to have it explode like a grenade all over the basketball court style hardwood floors. Luckily only a couple people saw it and I was able to clean it up before anyone else noticed my involuntarily obvious party foul, I mean I wasn’t even drunk yet. And that’s pretty much how I guess I can describe the band, like an exploding can of Miller High Life.
There was alot of buildup and expectation surrounding the performance, and with a salivating mouth and whet appetite for music they began to play, but the exploding sound seemed to ruin the whole experience. I have to say they were good, but the sound people never got it right. The keyboard needed to come up, so did the back-up vocals, and the bass. And the snare needed to come off almost to nill. The singer crooned through with ease but thats because they had all the mid’s and high’s treble blasting with almost no bottom end to back it up. And even when the keyboard player kept looking at the sound person and pointing up, the volume increase was so small it almost made no difference. It was like they were touching the volume knob but not turning it. I was really disappointed in the sound person’s ability to understand the communication of the band to get the sound right, but whatever. Thats about 60% of the rock show’s I go to and one reason I don’t play it anymore. If you can’t afford to bring your own sound person get ready to sound like shit.
Other than that they were pretty good. They played the songs they have posted on myspace first, and then the fourth song I would say was the best. I don’t know the name of it (nor is it on their sampler) but it was really well written and was conveyed with intense emotion. The keyboard (what I could hear) was a prominent part of the song and second guitarist shot through with a killer hook that kind of reminded me of the chorus to the song “Guilty by Association” by Louis XIV. In between the next songs I split to the next room to grab another well shaken MHL (this time opened over the garbage) and listen to the rest of the set from there so my ears wouldn’t bleed and I wouldn’t get pissed at the sound person. I did notice in the last song the drummer was playing so hard his ear monitors shot out of both ears, I thought that was cool. And when they finished everyone was pleased, but it was a tough sell and an even tougher audience. One of the Universal execs announced they have an full album coming out in spring, and everybody drank and mingled.
All in all they are good musicians, although I didn’t hear any solo’s, just harmonies and guitar driven verses and choruses. The singer has a great voice but the style doesn’t change much. You can get the jist of their sound from their myspace page or the sampler, and they could seem like they are having more fun while performing. They seemed a little pretentious and serious on stage but were all smiles and genuinely nice off stage. I can sum up the whole sound in three hyphenated words, indie-brit-rock. I know UK performers probably hate getting grouped into the “brit” category but that’s exactly what American’s classify that style as whether it’s technically correct or not. So welcome to the states boys.
The name comes from one of their songs called “Your Vegas” which is exactly what is sounds like it’s about, your own personal Vegas whatever it may be. Jon had told me they struggled with names for a long time, and that everything else they tried was taken, this is the only one that stuck. Guess it’s getting harder and harder to pick a name that’s good these days. Although, their music reminded me nothing of Vegas itself, so if you listen to them with Vegas in mind I don’t think Your Vegas is really going to be your Vegas… but whatever.
They are playing tonight with The Bravery at Neumos, it’s sold out, so it looks like their luck is still in streak. I hope they get a steady sound guy soon. Later I’ll write another article about the amount of money that the major labels dump into promoting some of these bands and how I don’t quite understand it even though I see it up close and personal, but for now I’ll just wish them luck. Give em a listen, judge for yourself, and then keep in mind they are now Universal backed, so don’t be surprised if you see them on Leno, or SNL, or one of those show’s real soon. LOL Your Vegas.