Concert Reviews

Elvis Depressedly at Prophet Bar, 7/28/14

Elvis Depressedly With Alex G, the Vliets and Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things Prophet Bar, Dallas Monday, August 28, 2014

Among other endless phenomena, the Internet has prompted the breeding of a new generation of bedroom auteurs. Traditionally, the house garage was the cocoon from which great bands emerged--something about the proximity to oil cans and trash bags possibly triggered the uncontrollable outpouring of rock music. In contrast, the intimacy of bedroom recordings has been a catalyst for a new wave of idealized indie sounds, those of the lowest-fi, deliberately remote and DIY audio. At the Prophet Bar on Monday night a collection of Internet-famous bands came together to play in 3D.

The door behind the Prophet Bar, referred to as the Door -- a dark and bare warehouse, archetypically Deep Ellum -- had a great turnout of Abercrombie college (or possibly high school) kids. Local band Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things opened, and despite certain technical difficulties, created a haze like the darkest moments of the song "The End" by the Doors. If blindfolded, the room would have evoked nothing but lava lamps and naked people. To follow up, The Vliets, another Internet-only Indie band, shone with their usual flawless polish.

The two visiting artists, who belong to the impossibly cool Orchid Tapes label from Brooklyn, Alex G and Elvis Depressedly, are in the midst of a 30-day national tour. The pairing is uncannily ideal: Both bands share moody lyrics and schizophrenic changes in tone, a crude voice, as well as a repetitive use of uncomplicated yet clever wordplay.

Alex G, whose stage and real name (Alex Giannascoli) both sound like Jersey Shore cast member's names, is an online music veteran on his eighth album, his first backed by a label. Except for the drummer, who was wearing a T-shirt of Miley Cyrus before she discovered porn, the five-piece entered the stage dressed modestly as if they were getting ready to go mow the lawn.

The group, an organized mess of disparate melody, looked at Alex G for approval and followed the lead of his teenaged-sounding voice, which spontaneously morphed into a scream of lyrics about wanting to be someone else and somebody famous, with honest angst and uncalculated aloofness. The instruments came together in bursts of well-produced harmony, ending satisfactorily with "After Ur Gone."

Elvis Depressedly is fronted by Mat Cothran, who is better known for his solo project Coma Cinema. Cochran is undeniably a man of words. It turns out the name, besides being as clever as "Marilyn Manson", is also very telling. It would at first seem just a witty pun, but melancholy and despair are recurring themes in Cothran's music. He was joined by a drummer, bass and guitar player, plus his girlfriend Delaney Mills, who plays keyboards and tambourine. They recall a more rebellious Jenny and Johnny, and sound much like a very early Modest Mouse had the latter been singing in the hippie corner of Haight and Ashbury, and had motifs that included using Satan and suicide as metaphors.

The band started off strong and got an appreciative crowd reaction. Mid-set they made the brilliantly odd choice of covering (or more precisely expanding on) Alice DJ's "Better Off Alone". Their own "U Angel U" was a show of pure emotion. Cothran's softness fronted a 1950s type of sweetness, which countered well his screams of, "There's no such thing as rock 'n'roll" over and over.

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Eva Raggio is the Dallas Observer's music and arts editor, a job she took after several years of writing about local culture and music for the paper. Eva supports the arts by rarely asking to be put on "the list" and always replies to emails, unless the word "pimp" makes up part of the artist's name.
Contact: Eva Raggio