March 1, 2011
Better than: paying full-price to see the same set in a more traditional venue.
After four years of struggles both personal and professional for the Tyler-based DuPree family and their musical entity Eisley, yesterday indeed proved a cathartic one for the group. And why not? It was the day, after all, that their first non-major label full-length, The Valley, earned its release -- a fact hardly lost on the band, which profusely thanked its audience again and again for their support on this night.
"Thank you so much for being here on the day that our record finally -- finally -- came out," guitarist and vocalist Sherri DuPree-Bemis said to the crowd just after her band's 6:30 p.m. arrival on stage.
She and her band had reason to be thankful; after four years since the band's last release, it's miracle on some level that so many people remember the band, let alone continue to hold it in such high esteem. But, nonetheless, many do -- Good Records was quite crowded for this early-evening in-store affair that found the band performing a full hour-long set of material culled both from The Valley and from the band's earlier material as well.
And, surely, this was about as perfect a crowd as the band could've asked for -- the audience was reverent, a little bit in awe, definitely proud and unquestionably eager to sing along when the band asked them to do so.
In return, the band, admittedly road-weary at this performance, which came just after a month-long tour in support of pop-rock outfit Rooney, offered up a pleasing set. But it wasn't without faults.
The road, it became clear quite early on, had taken its toll on the band. At one point, Sherri coughed into her microphone mid-chorus -- for which she profusely apologized, of course. At another moment, feedback distracted from an acoustic song offering -- and neither the band nor those working the PA system could figure out the problem. But these were minor quibbles. More noticeable was the fact that the band just looked tired -- Sherri handled pretty much all the talking, save for very brief crowd addresses from sisters Chauntelle and Stacy, who only spoke after Sherri essentially begged them to.
But, unlike say, Bowling for Soup, Eisley's never been a band big on personality; their focus has always been their sweeping alt-rock sound, one emboldened by Chauntelle's guitar play and Sherri and Stacy's undulating and sweeping vocal harmonies.
And that, essentially, is what the band offered up on this night -- the highlights coming in the form of old fan favorite "Telescope Eyes" and the best cut on The Valley, "Ambulance" -- with bassist Garron and drummer Weston, even from their positions on the back line of the stage, pushing the music along, showcasing a delicate restraint that made the musical crescendo's all the more stark in comparison.
Was it the best performance the band's ever offered? Hardly.
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Was it a nice gesture to its local fans? Certainly.
Was it a gentle reminder that this isn't a band to be overlooked int he local landscape? Without a doubt.
Personal Bias: I've got two Eisley full-lengths and an EP, mostly out of necessity for the gig -- I'd never really spent much time listening to them before coming to Dallas. But their music is undeniably pleasing -- and there's just no arguing the vocal harmonies they can offer.
By The Way: Pretty much the entire DuPree family was attendance for this show -- the band's parents, various siblings (including little sister Christie, who has her own blossoming music career) and spouses (including members of MuteMath and Say Anything).
Random Note: With the Cavern now gone, is there any doubting that Good Records is now, officially, the best stage on Lowest Greenville?