Blue/gray smoke wafted through the darkened interior of Lee’s Palace. We ordered drinks from a man in a commissar’s hat and set-up shop in front of the stage. As we debated the finer points of Ruso-Canadian relations with a passion that only alcohol and a man in a Russian hat can inspire, twin gigantic fog machines at either side of the stage released a continuous stream of glycerine smoke into the room. I remember thinking “if this place caught on fire right now, no one would be able to tell”.
David Courtright, an Atlanta-based solo musician who writes and performs under the moniker Suno Deko, was first up. Using a guitar, synth, and snare drum — which he incorporated with an array of different pedals — he truly was a one man band. As pedal-based looping has gotten better (we’ve come a long way in the last ten years), solo musicians have been able to add more levels and complexity to their music than a single artist traditionally could. Starting with melancholy piano chords almost like a funeral dirge, Suno Deko added instruments, constructing quirky but somber pop songs. He had a humble way of talking with the crowd too, complimenting them on their toughness in the face of terrible weather while also promoting his new album. The music was fun and quirkiness of its parts added up to an enjoyable whole.
As Hundred Waters took the stage the room dimmed even more as light filtered from the LED pillars and projectors on the stage, illuminating the front row in a dim light. The show began with low synths chords building in volume, with other instruments seeming to fade into existence from out of nowhere. The singer’s voice was soft and comforting floating in a cloud of reverb over the music that bubbled up thick and dark like the smoke still rolling across the stage. With a mix of the usual band staples (guitar and drums) plus an array of synths and other electronic instruments, they seemed to pull influences from all over the place, which were then blended together and presented in a dreamy, noise filled trip/pop package. I must have been careless about my note taking because the singer of the band noticed me writing (again!), but thankfully did not stop the show to call attention to me this time around (I still haven’t quite gotten over the last time). I had never really listened to Hundred Waters before seeing them on Thursday but I’ve been listening to them non stop since. Both bands that played this show were excellent and are well worth checking out, either in person or in highly consumable internet video form.
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Review by Tristan Johnston