The questions of the night: "Is Pilotdrift as amazing as Good Records says?" and "How did they get to tour with the Polyphonic Spree?" Everyone, it seemed, had seen the store's gushing newsletter about the Texarkana band and was there to confirm or debunk the hype. The bar had been set high. Perhaps a bit too high.
Pilotdrift's Radiohead-inspired spacey, wanky, dense rock peaked at times with Muse-like intensity and drama, the voices of Kelly Carr and Micah Dorsey playing off each other, trading harmony and melody as easily as the band members changed instruments. Sinister carnival riffs mixed with sea shanty in the enchantingly bizarre "Elephant Island," and a waltz limped along with accordion, melodica and most of the band trading vocals verse by verse. But the raucous ear- and eye-catching opening song was still the highlight of the show, with several slow, dragging numbers providing too much filler during a set that never kept its promising starting pace.
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The show's other buzz band was Day of the Double Agent, featuring the strong foundation of Regina Chellew (Chao, Captain Audio), Kris Wheat (Bedhead) and Daniel Huffman (Ghostcar, Comet)--a combination that sounds promising in theory and even better in person. The quintet's been around since January and has played a handful of shows, but the members are in sync beyond their time together, combining all the musicians' old bands and influences into a hefty package with moments of space rock, punk, bluesy guitar, "Pump It Up"-style keys, Wheat's husky whispers and Chellew's low growl. The style changed song by song, from a sparse but compelling guitar-based number to a more traditional rocker that began with guitar and a drum click before cutting loose with full band fury and Chellew's shrieking guitar solo. The impatient and noisy audience crowded a ghostly piece with Wheat's chant-like vocals and Chellew's lonely cornet. Despite the interruptions, Day of the Double Agent proved it knows both the power of letting all hell break loose and letting the silence echo.