Concert Reviews

Over The Weekend: Eisley and Christie DuPree at Brewtones in Tyler

Eisley, Christie DuPree
Brewtones in Tyler
October 1, 2010

Better Than:
Just about any blast from the past.

On Friday night in Tyler, a hodgepodge of around 150 young hipsters, adults and children sat comfortably in the auditorium of Brewtones, an occasional rock venue built into the Vineyard Church the members of Eisley attend.

In fact, the band helped start Brewtones over a decade ago, and they've had a heavy hand in running the place ever since. Their influence is obvious throughout the room--chandeliers that hang from various points in the auditorium are covered with a kind of greenery that might have been inspired by the fairy-tale subject matter of their earlier songs. Vintage drums that belong to Boyd Dupree, the band's manager and father, sat cluttered in the corners.

This is very much home for the band, and Friday night was very much a family affair. Distant relatives lined the walls with longtime friends and fans ready to see Eisley's return. Funny thing is, they weren't returning from a typical hiatus or a band break-up.

Personal issues and label problems have plagued the band for the last two years, making it the most difficult era the band has been through. But things are getting better according to the band, so this warm-up show for their "Over The River and Through the Wood Tour" was a bit of a comeback. And when they took the stage, Eisley seemed recharged.

The setlist traveled the entire spectrum of Eisley's discography, starting with "Invasion," the lead single from their 2007 album Combinations. The song seemed a little rushed, almost like the band was trying to get it out of the way.

It's understandable, though, seeing as they've played it hundreds of times since its release. The band finally settled into their pace around the fourth song, "Come Clean," which relies on a laid-back sway from drummer Weston DuPree, who was hidden behind a glass sound-proof wall, as well as the precise harmonies from singers Stacy and Sherri.

Their paired vocals, the band's signature, weaved in and out smoothly and precisely through the rest of the night--especially over the marching band waltz rhythm on one of the band's earliest songs, "Tree Tops."

But as the band got into newer material, they moved away from the whimsical sound of earlier songs and into more soulful territory.

This was most evident when Stacy introduced "The Valley," "Kind" and the show stopping "Ambulance," which is the band's most personal and powerful song to date. The song, written during one of the band's darkest times, shows an enormous potential for their future works.

There were no encores; this was just a warm up show. It's unfortunate, though, that the audience treated it as such. The band was clearly in full-blown tour form, but it seemed like most of the crowd just came to hang out and talk.

The chatter, however, was silent for the 30 minutes that Christie DuPree, the younger sister of Eisley's band members, opened the show. Her songs were sweet, melancholy, and breezy. Beautiful Joni Mitchell-esque melodies sung over arrangements reminiscent of blog darlings Memoryhouse soothed the audience just long enough for seven or eight songs. The youngest DuPree, Collin, accompanied her on electric guitar.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias: I've probably been to more Eisley concerts than any other band I've seen, but it's been about six years since the last time I saw them play. It brought back good memories and it's clear they've come a long way in the last decade. 

Random Note: Stacy was recently married to Mutemath drummer Darren King, who was in attendance at the show.

Other Random Note: Between Eisley and Christie and Collin DuPree, there are now two bands made almost entirely of DuPree siblings.

By The Way: Christie DuPree's set conjured memories of seeing Eisley play for the first time 10 years ago--complete with the feeling that I was discovering something great that nobody else knows about yet.

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Daniel Hopkins
Contact: Daniel Hopkins

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