Friday in Review: The Whigs, Shade, The Dream Scene

Photo Credit: Gabe Vodicka

The Whigs

Holy God, do I love The Dream Scene. Javier Morales’ tunes are super-duper catchy but also subvert the pop power structure; in a live setting, the music grooves and moves but also somehow seems to exist only for and within itself. It’s a trip, is what I’m saying. Last night at Flagpole‘s showcase on the Georgia Theatre rooftop, a three-piece version of The Dream Scene induced dancing and deliberation in equal measure from an eager crowd. Bassist Mercer West lamented the lack of distortion in his sound, but his instrument’s clean, persuasive thwack served in some weird way to heighten the music’s mystique.

Shade was a late addition to the Max lineup, and I’m glad I learned about the switch in time to catch the band’s incredible set. At an under-attended show, the trio over-achieved: the few previous times I’ve seen Shade, I’ve left feeling encouraged by the group’s vision but uncertain of its ability to achieve it. Last night those fears were put to bed. Frontwoman Phelan Lavelle’s vocals sounded monstrous and sure, like Ozzy circa Master of Reality but not as fucked-up. Indeed, the band has embraced a surprisingly sludgy, stonerlike sound. It’s a far cry from its early, scattered, post-punky style—and I like it. A lot.

The Whigs are back in town. The good news: they still sound like The Whigs. The bad news: well, you know. Just like this horribly depressing season of “Mad Men,” the band’s music is a reminder of the fact that no one ever changes, really. Also, like watching this season of “Mad Men,” I veered back and forth between being enamored by the group’s consistency and disappointed by its obstinacy. I was struck, as I usually am when I catch these dudes, by the band’s power; their rock and roll muscle is truly something to behold.


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