19 July 2008


UPDATE: Myspace link fixed.

So my brother, who is arguably the finest human being on earth after my mother, just left town with his new band, Skybox. (Dad, you're in the top 10. Gandhi is #15, so you should still be flattered.) Skybox is a young indie rock band, and the songs on their myspace page suggested some interesting and solid music, but not earth-shattering.

My brother rolled in at 2am on Thursday with their drummer, Mike, who is a stand-up guy, and as it turns out, a kick-ass drummer. Later that day, I met their bandmates, who were also great guys. Christian, the guitarist/keyboardist, is a live wire. Imagine Matthew McConaughey wanting to keep his shirt on at all times, and being an incredible musician.

When they started their Thursday show at Galapagos, I had the joy of watching a band for the first time that I had no knowledge of. I wasn't rooting for them -- I know my brother rocks the bass and is a music pro. I figured he picked a good project, so I sat back and watched them.

By doing so, I was reminded that learning a band by seeing them live in an intimate venue is still the best way to hear new music. Singer/guitarist/principal songwriter Tim sometimes sings in a whimsical falsetto that I've heard in other bands, and tend not to like. But as the first few songs went by, I could tell how much work he'd put into crafting these songs -- there were incredible vocal harmonies, dynamics and song structures.

By song and beer 5, I was ridiculously hooked. This band knew exactly what they were doing, but in the audience, there was no idea what was coming next. I think I missed a couple songs as I was feverishly text-messaging friends to urge them to come out to Friday night's show at the Knitting Factory. But I was absolutely floored.

I've stopped seeing a lot of live bands because in New York, a lot of bands get by with terrific marketing haircuts and fanbases, and more because I'm sick and tired of going to venues where people aren't there to see shows -- they're there to hang, be seen, catch up with friends, sit on the floor, wear enormous backpacks and pretty much do anything but direct their attention to the band onstage.

There's no question I enjoyed Skybox so much because my brother was in the band. But I also got to hang with everyone in the band before they hit the stage. It made a *huge* difference. If I walked into a club and saw Skybox playing, I'd be impressed but reticent, because I'd be detached, and because some of the things they do I've seen other bands do. But getting to meet them before they hit the stage, seeing they were earnest, down-to-earth funny guys telegraphed how much of their stage presence was an act, and how much was their personality. And honestly, it was all personality. For example, Christian was a ham onstage, but he's a ham offstage. He kicks all kinds of ass--maple, strawberry, boysenberry ass. These guys were all legitimately psyched to be playing their songs for people, and got along so well.

Friday night's show at the Knitting Factory was even better than the Thursday night show. Same set, I'm guessing. There was a decent crowd, and pretty much all of them were there to see another band on the 5-band bill. And after they played their first song, I knew they were on. And I had the distinct pleasure of watching a band I now love win over a crowd. It's a truly amazing feeling to watch a band who you know is good play to strangers and convert them. After every song the crowd got more and more excited. After the 3rd song, someone yelled out "You guys are called Skybox?", registering them for the immediate future, where they jumped in a long line at the merch table.

This post is kinda about how good my brother's new band is, but it's really about the excitement I felt going to a live show from a band I didn't know whose performance and energy was so vital, and how meeting them beforehand triggered my excitement for these two shows. When you know the band you're about to see is really talented, loose, and happy to be playing, all is good.

Dan, if you read this, stay in this band. You guys are awesome.


Blogger Tony Alva said...

Cool man...

I tried the link to their MySpace page, but it takes you to a blogger error screen. Search on MySpace turns up 546,677,789 Skybox's. Hook us up with the link so we can go hear'em.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Dave Cavalier said...

Ditto on the link. Would like to hear them.

Why so down on Gandhi? Was it his comment that the Jews of Europe should have offered their throats willingly to the Nazis to win a great moral victory?

12:53 PM  
Blogger Dfactor said...

Skybox! - Good name, exquisite sound, great post, mate. I listened to MySpace link last night for about 20 minutes before reading about new Westerberg disc.
Beautiful piano bits, good vocals.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Dave Cavalier said...

Mike -

I'm still getting the blogger error screen. I'd love to hear them.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Jackson said...

You must hip me the next time the play NYC. Jameson's on me.

2:59 AM  

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