Chapel Hill’s Local 506 is one of the darkest, stuffiest clubs in North Carolina. It eats talented bands alive, because they find that playing in a sauna isn’t as easy as they surmised, and the crowds tend to be comprised of relentlessly unenthusiastic, motionless hipsters. Thankfully, there’s a great beer selection.
When a band succeeds at imparting some atmosphere into the unremarkable space, it makes for a better night for all involved. An Horse and Telekinesis bravely battled the heat and the dreary setting on a surprisingly lively summer Thursday night.
An Horse, an Australian guitar/drums/vocals duo, fit a great deal of emotion and depth into their instrumentally sparse sound. Born from long listening and practicing sessions at an independent music store that once employed them, the band showcases Kate Cooper’s arresting songwriting and voice. On songs like “Listen,” she sounds like the perfect indie-pop singer, a mix of reverberating old-time folk nuance and stirring modern-day lyricism and poetic inflection.
Theirs is mostly a gentle sound, easily propelled through all kinds of musical idioms by Damon Cox’s drumming. They’re fun to watch, too, and there’s an obvious mind-meld between the two that resulted from all those nights of practicing and absorbing the music store’s vast collection. The highlight of their brief set was the aforementioned “Listen,” which benefits from Cox’s melancholy melodica and memorable lyrics like “I’ve had a little too much to think.”
Seattle’s Telekinesis performed last on this night, and the two bands had been switching spots for most of their 2-week nearly-national tour. The Telekinesis sound is sort of a revisionist “mod” pop-rock with indie overtones. It’s a highly danceable sound, but not long on variety or musicianship. Drummer/vocalist Michael Lerner proved to be a talented writer and performer, but none of the songs displayed much creativity, and they stuck firmly in the vein of 60’s-influenced guitar pop.
Like many Local 506 shows, this obscure double bill was mostly memorable because of the humid, oxygen-deprived venue and the always amusing sideshow provided by the oh-so-artsy, all-knowing college kids in attendance. Venues in this area tend to have particular “charms” such as these, but as long as interesting music like An Horse keeps rolling through town, the adventurous will keep making the trip.
An Horse – “Listen” video: