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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crumbling Arches Goes Full Circle

The marquee at the 40 Watt

Honestly, there's no better way to end the year than the way I started it... with Crumbling Arches, of course! Despite the fact that I've now been privileged enough to see eight of their shows, this will actually be my first show blog of my favorite band. Madness, I know!

My friend Susannah and I started off Friday night by arriving at the 40 Watt slightly earlier than we had anticipated, but this merely gave us a chance to rest a bit since we both had spent the day packing up our stuff for the summer. While we were chilling, Alex, one of the lead singers of the band, came by to chat and to steal my pen for Zachary the drummer's use. Curiously, I never saw that pen again. However, losing a pen is a small price to pay for the absolutely amazing show that they served to us later that night!

Before the Arches took the stage, Puddin Tang, a band whose sound resembled that of a rather peppy 50's sock hop, opened the show. I should probably mention at this juncture that this show was originally meant to feature the Presidents of the United States of America, but unfortunately, they had to cancel due to a family emergency of some sort. Puddin Tang was one of the two bands who stepped in to join Crumbling Arches in a celebration of the beginning of summer. While their tunes were quite bouncy, the fact that I wasn't able to understand a single lyric from any of their songs kept me from truly getting into their music.

Then it was time for Crumbling Arches to show everyone how it should be done. They began their set with one of their newest songs, Mutant Love, which has one of the most musically satisfying instrumental intros I've ever heard. Then, after blessing our eardrums with a few of their slower pieces, they played one of their most well-known and most danceable songs, The Preachings of Priamides. Nearly everyone left their seats for this one and crowded around the stage, singing along. The audience was so loud, in fact, that had they pointed a microphone at us, the lyrics would have been clearly heard from every corner of the club. Before they ended their set, they gave the audience a choice between a song about their "love/hate relationship with Athens" and their infamous cover of "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. Being a huge fan of both songs, I couldn't choose, but Mulan turned out to be the winner of the night. A cover like no other, Crumbling Arches demonstrates their incredible versatility in this song, showing us that the link between Disney and rock is most certainly an arch.

However, they did more than just pleasure us with their songs that night. I've mentioned before that a band's between-song antics and comments will often make a live show, and honestly, Crumbling Arches spoils me in this regard. No other band does it better! This time, Alex served us a bit of his most hilarious drabble with a public service announcement endorsing the HPV vaccine Guardasil. Later in the night, he managed to surpass even himself in delicious hilarity with an impromtu song about the band Lifehouse and the movie Teen Wolf. Then, while singing the Preachings of Priamides song, he and lead singer Brian reached for each other longingly in time to the music. It's unique bits of arbitrary banter and insanity like these that truly make every Crumbling Arches show an experience to remember! And speaking of experiences, nothing can prepare the first-time CA concert-goer for the acrobatics they might see at one of their shows. Sometimes it's like attending a rock-filled, visually exciting circus. In the past, they've delighted audiences with leaps from speakers and guitar-playing embraces, but this time, they showed us their most ridiculous feat, the one I call the flip. The flip is an indescribable display of balance involving Alex's ability to climb up, over, and through the legs of bass player Ian without touching the ground. You'd have to see it to believe it! Soon, I'll try to provide a video of it so that you can get a small taste of what it's like to view it live.

The show ended with a seven member band Quiet Hooves whose sound could only be labeled, for lack of a better word, interesting. With so many instruments onstage, I was hoping for some combination of sounds that would delight my ears, but instead, I struggled to hear anything that sounded much like music. However, I suppose I'll just give them the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps this is just one type of music that exists beyond my understanding.

Luckily, though, the night was not over just yet. My friend Sheila, who had been dying to see Crumbling Arches live ever since she first heard the songs on their myspace, finally had the opportunity to buy their CD, the Somnambulist. Because there was no pen to be found, she got all of the members to sign it in my eyeliner. Hooray for creative solutions! It was after this that I truly realized that my Crumbling Arches connection had gone full circle. So many things about this show reminded me of my own first Crumbling Arches show over a year ago, and here was Sheila, just beginning her CA experience. What a way to kick off the summer!

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