Monday, June 27, 2011

The Golden Republic, Secret Cities, the Caves and Minden -- Saturday's Sonic Spectrum Anniversary Party (review)

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 10:50 AM

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By April Fleming

Not everyone can resurrect their favorite band for their birthday, but not all of us are Robert Moore. On Saturday, the radio host celebrated the eighth anniversary of his beloved radio show, Sonic Spectrum, by bringing together a sweet blend of local pop and rock acts, the crown jewel being the reunited (and feeling quite good) Golden Republic


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he biggest surprise of the night was the second act, Secret Cities, which begged attention immediately with its huge percussion and engaging Beach Boys-inspired harmonies. I am a huge sucker for anyone performing in that vocal style, and they did us one better by pulling up two drum kits onstage. Shame on me for having missed them until now. The wide vocal ranges of Charlie Gokey and Marie Parker provide a great contrast to their driving beats and bass lines -- I got particularly sucked in by the song "Pebbles." If you don't already have plans next Friday, they'll be playing at the Replay in Lawrence before heading off to tour for the rest of the summer. You should go. Really.

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As the Caves began their soundcheck, the bar was close to capacity. I didn't check the smoker corral, but I'm sure if there is a capacity on that thing, it could have prompted a finger wagging from the fire department. The Caves are clearly a crowd favorite and are a pleasure to watch perform. I can't recall anyone who rocks harder from a sitting position than Elizabeth Bohannon, who danced from her chair to the beat whether going at it on keyboards or any number of tambourines or maracas that she pulled out of her vintage suitcase. On drums, Jake Cardwell's arms and legs moved so much to the beat, it almost looked like he was riding a bicycle. Or at least I thought that's what it looked like -- I am cursed to forever stand behind an enormously tall man. This time the tall man was wildly waving his own maraca. Where did he get that? 

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As enjoyable as all of the openers had been, the majority of the audience had obviously turned up to see the reunion of the Golden Republic. After a quick sound check, the band disappeared, and a few minutes later, the lights went down. Some quiet string music drifted over the PA. My friend turned to me and asked, "Is that the theme from Jurassic Park?" The music crescendoed and soared, providing a majestic entrance for the band. They then launched right into "I'll Do Anything." 

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Four years may as well have been four days for how crisp the band sounded. The rhythm section was right in sync, and I was reminded why the band was thought to have so much potential. Ben Grimes has a truly strong vocal presence, and the band plowed through its set effortlessly. From the back of the bar, I could see the tall maraca man still losing his mind in the front row. "Thanks so much, you guys," Grimes said. "This is awesome." 

A highlight was the performance of "Great Communication," a synthy, danceable song with a strong downbeat that got the packed front-of-house moving in unison. The band wrapped up with two more songs, but before leaving the stage, Grimes smiled and referred to the last time the band played together. "We leave Thursday for tour with Nada Surf. We're excited. Well, anyway, maybe in four more years we can do this again."

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Golden Republic Set List:

I'll Do Anything
NYC
I Mean It
Rows of People
Rudy's Theme
She's So Cold
Full of Yourself
Robots
Great Communication
The Turning of the World
You Almost Had It
You'll Get Old

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