Posted by: hankwillenbrink | November 9, 2008

Review: Icy Demons, Royal Bangs, The Photographic @ Skull Alley – 11/6

Thursday night, Skull Alley hosted yet another mammoth roster of up and coming bands including Louisville’s own The Photographic, Knoxville’s Royal Bangs, and Chicago-based indie supergroup Icy Demons.

I hadn’t ever heard of Royal Bangs prior to Thursday’s show, but boy was I glad to find out about them.  Too often, shows like this manage to grasp at a few local straws to pave the way for a main act, but Royal Bangs were anything but that.  Providing a high energy show heavy on the bass and drums while keeping a really poppy sound, Royal Bangs prove to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.  They’re an outfit that really shines in a live setting, because the sort of gnarled pop rock that they explore is allowed time to let the noise catch on and distort from static into well formed tunes.

The Photographic have definitely developed their own audience here in town with their brand of ponderous, daydreaming post-rock.  Half concert, half art show, The Photographic, true to their name, condense and juxtapose stripped down Do Make Say Think, Godspeed!  You Black Emperor-esque music to an accompanying visual soundtrack of rain puddles, cats, slow motion driving, etc.  I’m always reminded of Jem Cohen’s visual accompaniments to GYBE’s live shows when watching The Photographic.  And rather blissfully aware too, that their show is like a respite from reality:  images turning on themselves with some strong songs underneath.  However, having seen their show in the heat of the summer and until now, it doesn’t feel like much has changed.  You can take that as a good thing or a bad thing.  But, for me, I’m anxious to see The Photographic grow and push beyond their established, cultivated into newer territory.  Watching the visual accompanyment to their music, I was caught wondering, “What street in Louisville is that?”  What I want to wonder next time I see them is “Where am I?”  And, in David Byrne’s words, “How did I get here?”  The territory is stable for The Photographic at the moment, but I’m anxious for it to change.

Comprised of members of Tortoise and Man Man, Icy Demons has the kind on indie rock pedigree that can get them into a lot of doors.  Thursday’s show was the first on their tour and despite the logical hiccups that accompany a first run, the show was really solid.  There isn’t the Balkanized insanity of Man Man nor the smooth sonic euphoria of Tortoise in Icy Demon’s music.  Their sound is a mash of styles and genres, integrating bits of regaee, electronics, Sun Ra, and a even a little hip hop.  It’s a really complex mixture that demands stellar musicianship, which Icy Demons has.  But, at times, the musicianship gets in the way and when the band returns to basics is when the sound really shines.  It’s a lot of notes to dig into sometimes.  Meaning that the band, on first listen, seems excessively noodly and musicianly.  Akimbo rhythms and atonal melodies mark each track, and for the most part, due to the band’s superb skill manage to coalesce  into heady tunes that are unlike many other bands that you’ll hear.

Here’s a taste of the bands:

Royal Bangs – Broke Calculator
The Photographic – We Were Fed Poisioned Bread
Icy Demons – Miami Ice

*** pics after the break ***

Royal Bangs

The Photographic

Icy Demons



  1. I’m so pissed that I had to miss this show. I really wanted to be there for it.

  2. Nice to meet you at the show!

    Royal Bangs are always great – I saw them at the Dame in Lexington the day before and then again at Skull Alley. Their live show is awesome!

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