Doing a mix of covers and originals, Circus Mind didn't exactly come out of the gate strong. The band was not in sync from the onset, and the crowd's reaction was reflective of this. However, as the night progressed, Circus Mind began to come alive. More and more people began to filter in to a tightly packed Chesterfield's, and the sound became more cohesive. While emotion seemed to be lacking throughout the night, Circus Mind is definitely a talented bunch and quite creative. The band shows their true merit through their individual talents on their respective instruments, rather than as a determined presence working in unison.
The band's cover songs, on the whole, were more entertaining than their original
work, with everything from Bobby Womack to Steely Dan songs being played.
Circus Mind's original work was complicated and well played, but overall just
does not come together quite as well as it should. In the end, however, if
you are a diehard fan of funk-rock, chances are you will enjoy Circus Mind.
The Velvet Lounge in Setauket, just down the road from Stony Brook University, is a slick and polished nightspot. Adjacent to The Curry Club, the rich aroma from the Indian cuisine restaurant fills the bar area, and most of the wall space is adorned with paintings from local artists. Noah’s Arc’s performance proved to be flawless on this night, with deep bass riffs and the perfect amount of reverb on the vocals to spread the love through the room.
Lyrics that could unite all the oppressed were spouted sonically: “Do
you know what it takes to start a revolution/to stand up against the oppression,”
which the laidback crowd in attendance absorbed well. The wailings of Carl
Obrig’s Saxsello, which he dubbed the “mutant form of a Saxophone
used primarily in the 1920s,” were the most refreshing part of the evening,
breathing new life to the standard bass, guitar, and drums lineup. Noah’s
Arc interacted with each other well, fluently communicating with their instruments
in a manner most acts cannot even touch.
Text & photo by Joe Vetter
A star of the small screen, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s" James Marsters played two shows for a crowd of adoring fans at this venerable nightspot. Though best known for his role as Spike, a bleached blond sassy British vampire, Marsters appeared onstage with jet-black hair to match his tight black t-shirt, and sported a natural Californian accent, thoroughly distinguishing himself from his character. Performing acoustic songs from his solo album Civilized Man, Marsters' style of music varied from soft Nick Drake-like songs to bare country roots to sugary pop/rock anthems.
Many of the songs such as “Patricia” and “Up On Me” were about girls and relationships, with sexually suggestive lyrics that Marsters delivered with a sly smile and winks to the audience. The most popular selections of the night included “Katie,” an edgy rock tune, and “Sweet Spot,” a candied bubblegum melody with slippery guitars and a thumping beat. Marsters ended the first set with “Civilized Man,” the title track from his album, going out with pounding, clawing guitars that prowled down the scales as Marsters strutted along in place.
Though every song was original, the musical arrangements were elementary, with formulaic chorus/ verse structures, repeated chords, and simplistic lyrics. Yet, if his music failed to be complex, it certainly did not disappoint. Marsters has a powerful, personal connection with his fans, with whom he graciously bantered with between songs. He responded to calls from the crowd, laughed along with his audience, and frequently bent down to speak to those pressed up against the stage. Marsters told the crowd stories about his family at home, who he said are not impressed by his "Buffy" fame and ask him questions such as: “Buffy the whatever – where’s my steak?” The loving relationship Marsters has with his fans is endearing, giving him a likeable, approachable stage persona. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, Marsters was treated like a rock star and adopted this persona in his music, singing the stripped, gritty country and blues songs with a furrowed brow and pouted lip.
For an encore, Marsters chose softer, slower songs, but played them with
the same sincerity that he expressed when he told the audience: “I’m
gonna try to keep you in my heart and in my mind for a long time” before
taking his final bow.
– Laurie Kamens