Earlimart @ Getty, 3/9/07: See?! What’d I Tell You?!

earlimartWHO WOULD HAVE LOVED IT: Purveyors of good music, those who love a good string section, and those who enjoy the pairing of a high-brow venue with high-brow indie rock.

People who want music faster than 76 BPM, those who want to stand during shows, and those who don’t know shit.

Earlimart played the Getty’s Harold M. Williams Auditorium last Friday night to a sold out crowd made of the usual hipster folk peppered with people who obviously took a wrong turn after the Monet exhibit. To set the scene, if you’ve never been to the Getty’s auditorium for a show, you should know it looks like the nicest lecture hall you never had at your university (sans fold-out desks that rub gum into your favorite jeans). The show started the moment you stepped in the theater, with ethereal Debussy-ish piano music playing, mixed with robotic vocals saying hello, good to see you and asking did you enjoy the exhibit?. (It’s good to hear the guy from Radiohead’s Fitter Happier is still getting work.) Once Earlimart took the stage, it only took about four bars for everyone to realize they were in for something unexpected — a near-perfectly executed show.

Every part of the show seemed to be well thought out and planned, from the projected outerspace background (with flying cows, pigs and what might have been the Santa Maria, no less), to the creepy carnie music played between songs as to provide a seamless effect. Earlimart took the stage as an expanded version of the band, with the String DreamTeam, the Reverend (synth/keyboards) and The Professor (drums). The vocals were dead-on, despite the lead singer’s confessed nervousness associated with the venue, and for the multitude of players and instruments on stage, the music never split, stayed on course, and was better than listening to their albums (which as we all know, is the true litmus test of any show). The set list was 95% music from their forthcoming album Mentor Tormentor, which in case anyone is interested, follows right in line with their previous writings — melodic, kind of dreary (in a good way), muddy and hits you where it counts. Notable songs from the concert: Don’t You Think About Me and Nevermind the Phone Calls. If the music wasn’t enough, the players weren’t too bad on the eyes either, even to the point where one of my attending friends spent the next morning on MySpace trying to find (stalk) one of the string players. She succeeded. Apparently he studied under Itzhak Perlman. Score.

The only negative to note, and it was minor indeed, was the treble and volume wars between the string section and the Reverend and his synth. I’m not sure what the point of a live string section is during a song (or the entire concert), if you’re just going to play your string section sound effect on your synth over the actual string quartet playing behind you. And even better, at one point (and all of you former school musicians will know what I’m talking about), the Reverend actually turned around to the string section and did that little crocodile mouth/close handed thing at them to get a “feather release”… I could sense all the former band nerds in the audience were laughing… or crying.

I could have done without the “special” guest in the encore song (who reminded everyone in the audience why we don’t wear white jeans, and accordingly why they don’t mass produce adult onesies in white denim). But, if a group of self-impressed hipsters shaking a tambourine on stage is your biggest complaint, then really you have nothing to complain about. (Plus, let’s be fair: what show in Los Angeles doesn’t have self-impressed hipsters shaking a tambourine?)

It was definitely one of those shows where you wish you had every music-lover you ever knew with you… just so you could point and go See?! What’d I tell you?!