Friday, June 7, 2013

Radiation City

So this was fun: last night, Portland's Radiation City played The Earl in Atlanta.  Joseph War opened.

War started with a two- or three-song acoustic set, solo on stage with just a harmonic and an acoustic guitar (the strap of which broke), before going electric with a full band.  During the second portion of his set, the string broke on his electric guitar (it might have been one of those nights for him), but Radiation City was in the audience watching and their guitarist lent him his guitar to finish the set.

Mishaps aside, War put on a fine set of original songs, highlighted by his capable and masculine voice. A good start for the evening.

Headliners Radiation City took the stage around 11:00 pm.

I saw Radiation City play a free set for KEXP one September morning during MFNW 2012 and although I couldn't remember a single specific note, I recall being impressed by Lizzie Ellison's vocals.  I knew they were good enough to get me out of bed early after nearly 5 days of Bumbershoot and MFNW to hear their 10:30 am set at The Doug Fir Lounge, and I remember being pleased enough with their set that I was ready to come back out and see them when they came through Atlanta last night.

Radiation City at Doug Fir Lounge, MFNW, Sept. 7, 2012
What's funny is that I don't remember them as being nearly as good as their performance was last night at The Earl.  Ellison's vocals were as warm and sensual as ever, but she was ably backed with some terrific harmonies, and various other members of the band all took turns at lead vocals as well.  They employed a lot of interesting rhythms and all played various percussion instruments at various times.  In all, it was a great set of songs by a very capable and accomplished band, and either I wasn't awake enough that September morning to fully appreciate them or they're one of the most improved acts of 2013.

But don't just take my word for it.  Check out this recent set for yourself:

I think they chose their song Lark, the song  in the video above, to close their set, asking if we'd mind if they closed with a lullaby, promising that it would get a little boisterous toward the end (we allowed it).  Check out some of the other videos at the end of the clip above to get an idea of their range.

So what I guess I'm trying to say is that I'm glad that I trusted my instincts and went out to hear a band I only half-remembered as good, and I can guarantee you I won't soon forget them again.  However, I still don't know what they have against old upright pianos.

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