Southgate House show review!

30 July 2007

Wow—check out what Brian Baker from Cincinnati City Beat had to say about our show last Saturday at the Southgate House:

“After a film about aliens among us with an ending that was just a little too cliche and a local documentary about cicadas (featuring noted cicada maven Gene Krivsky), New York 12-piece The Sharp Things took the Southgate stage for 45 minutes of orchestrated Pop bliss. As the band settled into their spots (on what they noted before the show as being one of the more spacious stages they’ve played on), guitarist Jim Santo cracked, “This jacket is made of cicadas. I ordered it 17 years ago and it just came in.” The jacket in question was a pink/white/gray medium-wide striped affair that looked exactly like a pair of pants I owned in the fifth grade when I used to endure a variety of beatings on a weekly basis. I don’t think the pants had anything to do with the beatings, but seeing Santo’s jacket was a powerful memory cue for all of the things I had found a way to block from my fifth grade experience.

“Luckily, The Sharp Things’ symphonic Pop soothed those savage beasts right back into the Pandora’s brain box of my repressed childhood recollections. Sounding like an Indie Rock orchestra as arranged by Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb, The Sharp Things laid down a groove that swelled with the exquisite sound of a trio of lovely violinists who doubled as back up singers (Aisha Cohen, Janis Shen, Andrea Dovalle), a pair of crack guitarists (Jim Santo and Michelle Caputo), a skilled trombonist who also blew a mean hooter (Brad Madsen), a second keyboardist with nimble fingers and a strange resemblance to Bob Saget (Bob Byrne) and a rhythm section as solid as God’s alibi and as slinky as black lace lingerie (bassist Rich Holst and drummer Steve Gonzales); sadly, the band was without their gifted cellist Bob Smolenski, who would certainly have injected a gorgeously sonorous atmosphere into the proceedings had he been able to make the trip. Led by keyboardist/frontman/songwriter Perry Serpa, The Sharp Things breezed through selections from their three albums over the past four years — 2003’s Here Comes the Sharp Things, 2005’s Foxes & Hounds and the recently released A Moveable Feast — and converted the Southgate House stage from venerable Rock venue locale into venerable Rock orchestra pit.

“The Sharp Things set the tone with Foxes and Hounds’ stupendous opening track, “There Will Be Violins,” as much a mission statement for the band as a song. They followed up with my personal favorite track from A Moveable Feast, the anthemic “Through With Love,” a lovely and powerful song in the studio that converts into a formidable presence live, particularly Santo’s Mick Ronson/*Ian Hunter* guitar solo toward the end. In fact, everything The Sharp Things presented from their first two albums was likewise expanded in tone and density, partially because of the natural translation to the stage and partially because the band has continued to solidify and evolve since coming together nearly five years ago. All of that evolution is brought to bear when the Sharp Things revisit their earlier material and play it alongside the muscularly cerebral material found on A Moveable Feast.

““Storm King” is a case in point. On Feast, the track is echoey and distant, the sound of Jimmy Webb producing a Carole King composition as performed by an Indie Rock outfit tributing The Association. In the live setting, the Sharps push the song into much higher relief, the echo dialed back in favor of a more visceral sonic attack that thrills and elates where the studio version haunts and dreams. All of the Sharps’ old songs have benefited from the band’s newfound sense of unity and direction; anytime this many people can travel by van from New York to anywhere and not kill each other along the way, let alone put on a world class show for a few dozen people, this is a group with a very clear sense of purpose and inner fulfillment. Long may they rock, pop, roll and orchestrate. If it ain’t baroque, the Sharp Things will fix it.”

View photos of the show on Flickr

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