The Horrors, Stepkids
Prophet Bar -- Big Room
September 20, 2011
Better than: unpleasant surprises.
The Horror's new, third album, Skying, is hardly revelatory. But it's decent enough.
The same can be said of their live show, which came to the Prophet Bar's big room in Deep Ellum last night.
Still, there were reveals: The Horrors often mine an New Wave influence from the '80s, but, at least in last night's performance, their sources of inspiration seemed to come from another crop of past favorites -- rather than Joy Division, Echo & The Buunnymen, Modern English and so on, their set last night mostly recalled Flock Of Seagulls, and not necessarily in a bad way. The drums were washed in reverb, pounding out a steady, repetitive beat, and the boys each had a look -- they were coolly detached, as you'd expect.
It was fun, but not too distinctive or memorable. One interesting note, though: There didn't appear to be a set list on stage. Does the band play the same songs night after night? Perhaps some of their cool detachment is actually boredom.
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Opening band Stepkids, meanwhile, were a complete, joyous surprise. A trio from Connecticut, these three played an extremely tight early-'70s version of blue-eyed funky soul. Think Beck's Midnight Vultures phase. All three were strong singers, and with their kit and bodies dressed uniformly in white, they definitely had a fun thing going on. They have an album that will be released in the next week or so.
Personal Bias: I am not a long-time fan of the Horrors. But, as an avid reader of musical press, I have followed the arc of their career as they metamorphised into what is now their third musical phase. I bought the new album and listened to it eagerly, and liked it OK.
By The Way: This was my first return to the big room since the closing of Gypsy Tea Room so long ago. And it struck me as ... dingy. There was always a bit of grime there, of course. But I had a hard time reconciling some of the amazing shows I saw in that place with the space I was in last night.
Random Note: Life is funny sometimes. In the car for just a few minutes yesterday with the radio on, I heard Stepkids. It made enough of an impression that I checked to see who it was. This was before I knew they were the openers.