Monday, June 20, 2011

Live review: S.I.Q.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 9:45 AM

S.I.Q.

Tremont Music Hall

June 18, 2011

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The Deal: S.I.Q. — Society In Question — stood out among a smattering of cocky garage bands at Gorilla Productions’ showcase. Usually I wouldn’t be caught dead as a spectator at one of these shows unless I felt the urge to make my eardrums bleed, but occasionally a good, under-represented band ends up there as a vehicle for gaining new fans. All of those bored band moms had quite a surprise coming.

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The Good: Before the band’s set even began, lead guitarist James Nelson was soloing along with the house music, a preview of what was to come. Once they dug into their set, the lethargic listeners around Tremont Music Hall suddenly perked up, as if they could now safely remove the gauze from their ears without further bleeding. The rich, powerful voices of Phillip Rich, guitar/vocals, and Ashton Johnston, vocals, blended seamlessly compared to the screeching from the screamo pterodactyls that came before — both are lead-quality singers. Phillip and James Nelson, lead guitar, wove together intricate guitar melodies that put to shame the three-chord wannabes. Bassist Cole Millward plucked out the creative rhythms on his six-string bass in perfect timing with double-kick powerhouse drummer Paul Wood. What a phenomenal first show for Paul; no one would have guessed he had only been playing those songs for a little over a month. As a fun surprise, Ashton came out on stage for one of the mood changes in the last song with a saxophone—which, oddly enough, meshed very well with the otherwise metal sound. They left to shouts of “One more!” and “That’s not long enough”—to which Ashton responded, “That’s what she said!”

The Bad: Since a lot of people active in the local scene pretty much boycott Gorilla Productions’ shows because of bad quality of bands and lack of artist compensation, the crowd was a bit sparse. After a slow start, the energy built from there, and when Ashton implored the fans to come closer to the stage, the excitement came on much stronger. People trickled in from outside to hear the proggy-yet-accessible 10-minute epic “Nightmare Lullaby,” and S.I.Q. went home with a gaggle of new fans. The crowd would have loved to hear another song, but the Gorilla Productions emcee was standing off stage with a stopwatch so bands don’t go over their 30 minutes of fame.

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The Verdict: If you like a little meat to your metal, this band is the Porterhouse of Charlotte. Even though all but one of these whipper-snappers is under 21, these guys have earned their place in the Charlotte scene with hours upon hours of practicing their instruments and can school most musicians I know. James actually does school guitarists as an instructor at Streetwise Music. With a rare combination of youth and talent, S.I.Q. is definitely a band with the potential to go big places.

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