Last Night: How the Wrong Opening Bands Ruined the Globes' Easy Appeal

The Globes played the Crocodile on Thursday, January 7, with Eighteen Individual Eyes, and Elba.
The Globes are the kind of Seattle band you can hear plenty about without having ever heard their music. (Personally, I've had at least three people ask if I like the Globes. I always responded, "I've never actually heard them," to which my friend would say, "Yeah, me neither.") It's easy to see the Globes' appeal: they write lovely, meandering, near-psychedelic pop songs that are utterly listenable. Their music is polished and arftul, filled with fuzzed out guitars that still sound clean. Lead singer Erik Walters sounds like Far's Jonah Matranga: always on key but not afraid to push his voice to a near-growl when needed.

The ease of the Globes' music also means that it's not hard to ignore. True, there's no good reason to dislike this band, but there's nothing terribly attention-grabbing about them, either. You could easily listen to the Globes while doing your dishes, for example, without getting distracted from the chore. If the Globes are going to attract and maintain a larger audience--and with a new album coming out this spring, it's a likely goal--they'll have to choose much better opening line-ups than last night's show at the Crocodile.

Things were going fine when Seattle's Eighteen Individual Eyes took the stage around 10 p.m. in the middle slot. Eighteen Individual Eyes is an all-girl experiment in guitar-driven prog rock. Awkward but still confident, they combined the rough and tumble drums of Sleater-Kinney's Janet Weiss with long, fuzzed-out guitar solos and sweet vocals.

But something went terribly wrong when Elba, another Seattle band, took the stage at the start of the night. At best, they sounded like a late-90s emo band; at worst, kind of like a band your friends formed in high school. It became impossible to tell the instruments apart--and not in that good, noisy, prog-rock sort of way. The songs were crowded, with too much bass, not enough keyboards, and the entire rhythm section played the same beat without breaking free. It's hard to know what happened to Elba last night: while the music isn't mindblowing, the band is actually listenable when recorded.

There are two particularly heartbreaking things about Elba's performance, looking at it from the Globes' hypothetical perspective. The first is that a poor opener drives off audience members who may have showed up to the Crocodile on a whim, just to check out the band du jour. And given that there were three opening bands on a Thursday night--Explone played first, but I didn't catch their act--I'd imagine those casual listeners weren't going to stick around until almost midnight to see the Globes perform if that meant tolerating Elba first. (And it was noticeable that the Crocodile's crowd thinned as the night wore on.) Eighteen Individual Eyes as a direct opener could have attracted and held the attention of an audience that was growing tired.

The second is that all the things Elba did wrong are all the things that the Globes do so well. The Globes' songs are carefully composed: all of the instruments come together without losing their identities. The band is more about creating a complimentary sound than focusing on one central element. It's symphonic rather than noisy. And someone who has heard little prog rock might mistake Elba as a solid representative of the genre and wrongly dismiss the Globes without listening. It's sad to say, but this is part of the business of music: buzz only lasts so long, but a poor live performance is hard to forget.

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