House of Blues-Chicago, IL
June 12, 2010
Armed with a drum kit, a wired analog telephone, a guitar, a classic reel-to-reel tape player and a few thoughtfully placed props, Cincinatti’s latest indie export Bad Veins opened to a slightly underwhelmed crowd on June 12 at the House of Blues in Chicago, all of whom were there to watch alt-rock outfit Thrice rumble the floor with their signature hard and fast guitars. With a new LP out today on Dangerbird Records, Benjamin Davis and Sebastien Schultz are spending the next month on the road with Thrice and several other acts, and anyone slightly familiar with Bad Veins’s self-titled debut album released last year-arguably one of the best of 2009-most likely let out a Scooby Doo-style “Huh?” after reading “Thrice” and “Bad Veins” together in the same sentence. But although most of the room didn’t take too well to the duo’s orchestral, intensely catchy pop-rock set, the truth is that nobody really expected them to.
Read the rest of our Bad Veins live review after the jump…
Just three years ago, Bad Veins was transformed from Davis’s solo project of just him and his vintage reel-to-reel tape player (affectionately named Irene) into the enthusiastic duo of Schultz on drums and Davis (and Irene) on everything else. After an absolutely unheard of rate of takeoff for an indie duo-due explicitly to the two hauling ass to New York City on the weekends to avoid the Cincinatti music scene bubble-Bad Veins released their debut album last year to critical acclaim and relative success. It was obvious these guys were going places, especially after embarking on a month-long tour with indie darlings Frightened Rabbits this spring.
But here they were, playing to a crowd of not-quite-hardcore misfits expecting a headbanging rock show. It would seem like a strange transition in audience for Bad Veins to make, but Schultz and Davis say knew what they were getting into with this tour. Thrice have proclaimed their love for Bad Veins’ album, and they eventually invited them on the month-long tour. Why not take the opportunity to play for a crowd of 1,000, right?
As the second openers, Davis and Schultz had to hustle through a quick half-hour, seven-song set, barely taking a half-minute in between songs to catch their breath, let alone say much to the increasingly unwelcoming crowd. The set started off a bit slowly with the cadence of their album’s opening track, “Found Out,” but quickly kicked up a bit with the up-tempo, irresistible radio single “Gold and Warm.” Davis’s vocals never waned throughout the set, completely enveloping and grasping the entire room. Schultz didn’t hold back on the drums, tearing through songs like “Falling Tide,” which seemed to be a crowd favorite (not to mention this reviewer’s favorite from the album). Irene also held her ground, augmenting the guys with backing tracks they couldn’t play live. With Davis pouring his heart out through the mic (and sometimes through the analog telephone prop), and Schultz killing it on the drums, it’s hard to imagine how anyone couldn’t be blown away by a live Bad Veins show.
So though Davis and Schultz are just starting out on this tour opening for Thrice and it’s possible that other cities may adapt better to the group’s sound, it’s unfortunate Bad Veins were tacked onto a ticket headed by Thrice. The mega-Thrice fans were largely confused, unimpressed and, at times, downright annoyed by the indie-pop ballads Bad Veins brought to the stage. Though Davis and Schultz were aware of what they were getting into, this is not the group’s core, and it’s a shame their growing talent and killer showmanship will go unnoticed and unappreciated for the next month while they’re on this tour.
Nevertheless, Bad Veins’s half-hour set was more than satisfying, much like their album, which will be on repeat until they blow back through town for their own headlining show. Then, mega-Bad Veins fans will surely be there to appreciate all they have to offer.
Written by Jessica Galliart