At Earth House Wednesday, a small mass of people arrived wet and cold, just happy to be out of the rain. Out of nowhere, a bass drone so loud you could feel it in your gut came blasting from the PA and Eaters was off. I’d never heard this band before but after the first two songs I began to understand the cold yet sentimental synth landscape that this duo was working to create. They wound seamlessly between overwhelming synth swells and dancing grooves that made me feel like I’d been transported back in time. The late 70s, early 80s vibe was undeniable and I couldn’t help but think of New Order and even Joy Division as I listened to Bob Jones sing his low endless melodies over Jonathan Schenke’s dynamic production. The lyrics were abstract but poignant, dealing with life, love, and the human condition, and despite occasionally jarring production choices, the gentle melodies created an effective juxtaposition with the harsher musical landscape. The music felt like it was reaching for something and the mood could not have been better suited for a cold and rainy night.
Next came Beth Israel. They announced that they were from Austin, Texas, and proceeded to jump right into their set. One of the members of Eaters plugged his ears before they started so I anticipated the loud music that I would enjoy for the next half hour or so. But, this was not unpleasantly so as Beth Israel live sounded much more punk rock than their lo-fi sound on their records, (possibly because I was standing right by a speaker). Beth Israel was synchronized and the instrumental middle sections of the songs flowed easily back into the vocal sections. The lead singer made some deadpan jokes about one of his song titles and the burgers in the dining hall. The band seemed to be creating the setlist on the spot yet never seemed to miss a note. This made Beth Israel fun to watch and let me get out some of my angst before running back to my dorm in the pouring rain.