Eisley, The Narrative, Christie DuPree
June 4, 2011
Better than: the band's Good Records in-store performance a few months back.
Two-thirds of the way through Eisley's 70-minute, Saturday night offering at the Granada Theater, the band, which had already performed a mostly tight, swirling set up to this point, unleashed quite the one-two punch.
First came "Ambulance," the haunting Stacy-driven ballad from the Tyler-based family band's 2011-released The Valley LP, which soothed the crowd into submission. Up next, "I Wasn't Prepared," from the band's 2005 debut LP, Room Noises, which found sisters Stacy, Sherri and Chauntelle, brother Weston and cousin Garron joined on stage by younger sister Christie, and provided something of a reunion feel.
Sure, Christie had been on tour with her elder siblings for the entirety of this, their headlining tour for The Valley. But, on this final stop, the band's return-to-North Texas performance, the entire family's appearance on stage together truly added a homecoming appeal to the rather triumphant night.
Indeed: Between a handful of addresses to the audience, where the band thanked the crowd for their support and, once again, made a point to explain their love for Dallas, which sits 95 miles from their Tyler homebase. But, for the most part, the band members came second to their musical offerings on this night, which sounded vastly improved over the somewhat nervous offerings seen their The Valley in-store CD release performance at Good Records back in March.
That show, which found Eisley's reverential audience doing much of the evening's heavy lifting, proved a stark contrast to this one, which saw the band confident and much improved thanks to a few added months of messing around with their new material. Practice sure does make perfect: The always-impressive three-part vocal harmonies delivered by the DuPree sisters entranced on this night, but it was the band's overall, and rather out-of-left-field, grit that truly impressed. "Smarter" (see above) in particular came with a steady, heady groove that once again proved this band far more powerful than their soft exteriors make them appear.
Clearly re-energized, both from recent life hurdles and from their split with record label Warner Bros., Eisley capably proved itself a band back on track on Saturday night.
Personal Bias: I wasn't here for Eisley's early- to mid-'00s 's area explosion, but I've come to very much appreciate the band's talents and, more important, its gorgeously complex sound. They're a band too often pigeonholed, I feel, alongside the Alternative Press bands of the day when, really, that's an inappropriate place for the band to be slotted. It's a shame, probably, that they got to open up for the likes of Coldplay so early on in their career; these days, when they'd best be able to capitalize on such an opportunity, such options seem like pipe dreams.
Random Note: The Narrative, the main opening support act on this bill, were endearing with their cutesy crowd banter -- but to a point. Just play your music and stop trying to get me to say "Aw!" Oh, and stop covering Radiohead and Journey. Expecially Journey.
By The Way: Looks like you won't have to wait another three years for an Eisley release. The band expects a new EP ready for release some time this fall, according to Boyd DuPree, father of four-fifths of band