On The Scene: Vinyl Thief and Isadora at Mercury Lounge, NYC
Vinyl Thief at Mercury Lounge 2014; All photos by Laura Baker-Finch
New York City -- The line outside Mercury Lounge Wednesday evening began to form at 6:30pm, the door and show time listed for the early show that night. These punctual fans were filing in to help Nashville's Vinyl Thief celebrate the release of their debut LP Fathoms with a little help from NYC's own Isadora. Despite a mere 24-hours separating the show from the album release, the crowd was more than eager for Grayson Proctor (vocals, synths), Logan Purdom (guitar), Sam English (keys), and Andrew Broadway (drums) to take the stage, and there's a good reason why. All 10 tracks off Fathoms are radio-ready, but there's more to them than catchy choruses written for the masses. Each song is unique, telling their own stories and captivating with a new sound, while still contributing to the overall theme of the record - escapism.
Take "London" and "Faces" as examples. "London" provides a roller-coaster journey waking the listener up with dreamy melodies before moving through a pulsating beat then erupting into guitar breakdowns. "Faces" acts as a more acoustic-oriented anthem, with in-control yet wavering vocals you'll find yourself (attempting) to imitate. What many tracks seem to have in common is their tendency to gradually build, to pull the listener in slowly before engrossing them in upbeat, electro-rock rhythms and soaring synth lines (see "Middle of the Night" for the latter). For more on Fathoms, check out our interview with Vinyl Thief.
The same holds true for the live rendition of Fathoms. With a presence that far surpassed the small stage of Mercury Lounge (frontman Grayson Proctor literally tripped over monitors as he tossed himself about), the quartet sucked the audience in with the slow, sentimental track beginnings before letting the mix of traditional rock n' roll instruments and synthesizers compel the crowd to dance. What truly stood out about their set, however, wasn't the seamless transition into a "Bennie and the Jets" cover (though that was very well received), but the silence. Mercury Lounge's narrow room facing the stage often amplifies the conversations of audience members less than enthralled with the performers, especially during the venue's early shows, but no chatter, laughs, or even whispers could be heard between or during Vinyl Thief's songs. Their sound was too tight and Grayson's antics too captivating for anyone to turn away from the stage, for fear a moment would be missed.
Though, before Vinyl Thief proved their live sound could match the mastered, Isadora validated themselves as more than just a warm-up band. Too often are opening acts overlooked in favor of pre-show drinks at the venue's back bar or a late arrival, but neither was the case Wednesday night. Isadora pulled a crowd into Mercury Lounge's venue room as big as that for Vinyl Thief, and kept them engaged throughout their set.
Ian Mellencamp of Isadora
Vocalist and guitarist Aaron Mendelsohn, bassist and vocalist Ian Mellencamp, drummer Jesse Bilotta, guitarist and violinist Nick Burleigh, and keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist Joshua Rouah write atmospheric rock music with songwriting that's melodic, moody, and raw. They blend guitar riffs with smooth harmonies and layer emotional vocals with heavy instrumentation to create a composed sound with a touch of punk. Their live show keeps you on your toes through so many twists and turns you become lost in it. They'll nudge towards pop but then pull out a violin or let the riff dance to the beat only to suddenly make the instrumentals breathier in favor of prominent harmonies.
With Isadora's unpredictability and Vinyl Thief's aggrandizing stage presence, the night was one for the books.
Logan Purdom of Vinyl Thief
Grayson Proctor of Vinyl Thief
Sam English of Vinyl Thief
Nick Burleigh of Isadora
Aaron Mendelsohn of Isadora
Joshua Rouah of Isadora
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