Feeling for experience

Live music often provides problems of perspective. The view from the stage is different from the view from the audience, and the sound is different, as well. What sounds great to the band sometimes sounds mediocre from the audience side of the house. Part of becoming an experienced live performer is engaging with and solving these problems so that the house and the stage reach a happy medium.

But less-experienced bands seldom can reach this medium. Case in point, the Feeling, a young band that performed last weekend at the True Love Coffeehouse on a bill including the more seasoned quartet Carquinez Straits. The Feeling is a competent musical act with all the positive qualities of a band that could be, with experience, a great and entertaining musical act. But before the band reaches that state, there are some deficiencies that need addressing.

The songwriting is generally solid, relying on a heavy (sometimes too heavy) Elvis Costello influence and a healthy nod to veteran indie act Yo La Tengo. The problems inherent in the performance lie with the band’s relative inexperience. The drummer, for example, performed at nearly twice the volume of the rest of the band. The True Love Coffeehouse is a small, intimate venue, and there is really no reason why a drummer would need to play at full volume—let alone smash the cymbals with full strength (the sound of which essentially drowned out the rest of the band).

The high point of the Feeling is in the other half of the rhythm section: the bass. The tone here is punchy and clear, and the bassist is both solid and musical. Adding a drummer who matches that tone, performing interesting rhythms with a lighter touch, would bring the entire band up to a higher level, allowing attention to turn away from ear-shattering cymbals and back to the vocals and dual guitar work of the band’s frontmen.

These problems were exacerbated by the presence of Carquinez Straits (www.latherrecords.com), a band with much more experience and none of the problems associated with newer bands. The drums here were at a perfect level, allowing the rest of the band to act as an organic unit. Of particular note during the performance was a new song titled “Four Blocks to Mexico,” a mid-tempo tune that ended in a blistering guitar solo by lead guitarist Mark Searle. In fact, Searle’s playing throughout the set was remarkable: a deft combination of country and indie-rock licks that, in many ways, provided the focal point of the band’s dynamic energy. Nice work.

In other news: Following in the footsteps of recent U.K. tour veterans Anton Barbeau and Scott McChane, Kevin Seconds (www.kevinseconds.com) has embarked on a solo tour of England through the end of October.

The best news of late is that in response to recent problems with booking and show information (as reported in an earlier column), the Fox & Goose has changed bookers. Interested bands are directed to contact frankatthegoose@yahoo.com. The venue has been featuring live music for 25 years and is committed to continuing that trend far into the future. Upcoming dates include a Halloween show featuring techno-pop music pioneers Casualty Park. More information is at www.foxandgoose.com.