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Over The Weekend: Viva Voce, Cut Off Your Hands, and Robert Gomez at Hailey's

Viva Voce, Cut Off Your Hands, and Robert Gomez
Hailey's Club
June 12th, 2009

Better Than: imagining Clap Your Hands Say Yeah covering Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends in its entirety.

Hailey's hosted another fine show on Friday night, but only a couple dozen people came out to see it. Luckily, this small crowd really wanted to see the acts.

Viva Voce, supporting its newly-released fourth album, Rose City, headlined with a full hour-long set. The former duo (now a quartet) played a handful of fine songs from that latest record, as well as older favorites like "From the Devil Himself." It helped that Anita Robinson, with a gentle, soothing voice, was quite ferocious on lead guitar; from bluesy bends to searing slides, Anita did what great guitarists do--make it look so easy.

Her husband, Kevin, stood tall and strong leading the band through their set. And with the band's two newest members, guitarist/drummer Corrina Repp and drummer/keyboardist Evan Railton, holding down their end of the group, the band's older material sounded as good as it is on record.

Though the band had great stage presence, many of the thirteen songs in their set felt same-y after a while. As in: same drum feels, same kind of guitar leads, and same kind of harmonies.

A little more variation would have been good, but also factor in how well Cut Off Your Hands was before Viva Voce...

The New Zealand-based quartet just smoked with its eight originals and two covers (The Sonics' "The Witch" and Split Enz's "Shark Attack"). Even though many of the band's songs sounded the same as well, there was a sort of freshness and vigor to its set that Viva Voce's just didn't possess. Cut Off Your Hands frontman Nick Johnston made spastic twitches to the beats and dynamics, but never to a point where they seemed contrived. His fellow bandmates, meanwhile, played like they were alive and inspired, making quite a nice visual. From hopping drumbeats to three or four-part harmonies, the band's fine debut album, You & I, completely came alive.

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And though Denton's own Robert Gomez opened the show and played to only a handful of people, his music was enough to get the guys from Cut Off Your Hands to stop playing pool and check him out. Gomez's sound is definitely particular in the DFW area: How many acts do you know of where the live line-up is guitar, percussion, keyboards, cello, and french horn? Gomez himself, decked out in a white sport coat and shoes, performed his atmospheric folk quite well. Yet when paired with the two other acts, his music seemed a tad out of place.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I really wanted to see Cut Off Your Hands more than Viva Voce. No disrespect to Viva Voce, but after seeing Cut Off Your Hands play at SXSW this past March, I had to see them again. Like the kind of "again" where you drop everything to make sure that first time wasn't some fluke.

By The Way: Both Cut Off Your Hands and Viva Voce took requests from the crowd. Despite repeated requests, though, Viva Voce favorite, "We Do Not Fuck Around," was not performed.

Random Note: After Viva Voce's encore, the Charmels' "As Long As I've Got You" came over the PA. If that song doesn't sound familiar, well, it was sampled famously by the Wu-Tang Clan on their "C.R.E.A.M." track, and it itself is a wonderful song

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