Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tilly and the Wall at Emo's

Once again I stepped outside of my normal realm of musical tastes to venture into the world of “indie girl rock”. Last month it was Rilo Kiley. This month it was the Tilly and the Wall show at Emo’s Thursday night. I had a good time at Rilo Kiley, so I was up for some Tilly.

I recently discovered Tilly and the Wall by accident, randomly combing over different myspace band profiles. I recognized the name as I remember they were one of the bands that received a lot of buzz during SXSW. After browsing their myspace page, I saw that they were coming to Emo’s and penciled it in to my calendar. I didn’t have anything planned for Thursday and I wanted to see what the buzz was all about.

As I arrived at Emo’s, the place was kind of empty as the show didn’t start until an hour later. Those that were there early seemed to be a similar crowd to the people I saw at Rilo Kiley. There were lots of teen girls that looked straight out of the Urban Outfitters catalogue. There was no shortage of leggings, 60s style dexter glasses (or what I call Lisa Loebs) and headbands. The few guys in attendance seemed to be with their dates or girlfriends.

The first band to start the night was a young Austin based band called “Ringo Deathstarr”. I have seen their name on a few flyers around the web, but were not familiar with them beyond that. From the very start they seemed nervous to me. Perhaps some sound issues contributed to that. Age and band maturity may been a factor, as none of them looked older than 21 to me. I also had trouble hearing their vocals. I did come away with a good idea of what their sound is like and heard some good things musically. They incorporate feedback well and have a really good guitar player who stands out. As I am listening to their music on myspace while writing this, I can’t help but notice a complete paradox in what I heard from them Thursday and what I am hearing now. Their music is really good. You will like it if you are into stuff that sounds like The Cars, Starfly, Joy Division, etc. I will just call it an off night. I’m making it a point to go catch another show from them later on sometime.

The second band on the bill, Belaire, came on shortly there after Ringo Deathstarr wrapped up. Belaire is another band whose name I had seen and heard but have never seen live. I noticed a larger crowd had come in for Belaire, with even more headbands and leotards to go around. Once Belaire got started, it immediately became an idie rock dance party. Oh yeah, the sweet-sweet electro pop, synthesized sounds have a lot of power over of the hipster and indie girl persuasion. They can’t help but move to it.

I didn’t catch the names of their songs really, except for one called “Madison”. They claimed that “Madison” was about a dog. Over all their set was good. They had a much better sound than Ringo Deathstarr did, technically speaking that is. Their last song of their set was the stand out single for me, called “Back Into The Wall”. They mentioned they are working on a new album for a fall release. Belaire fans should look out for that.

Finally around midnight came the headliner we were all waiting for, Tilly and the Wall. You could tell they were coming by all the glitter and balloons circulating around. It was going to be “one of those shows” I thought to myself. The reality of it was that I didn’t know what to expect. All I ever heard about this band other than the SXSW reviews was that they had a tap dancing percussionist. Right in the middle of the stage was an elevated wood platform. There were also two smaller wood platforms by each microphone towards the front of the stage. I couldn’t wait to see what all that was about.

As soon Tilly and the Wall came out, all you could heard was screaming cheers. They even brought out more balloons and yes, a tap dancer. The two lead vocalists, Neely and Kianna, were both wearing tap shoes as well to enhance the tap effect. It was definitely original and cool.

Besides the tap dance percussion, Tilly brought with them an elaborate lighting system to provide a real psychedelic atmosphere and further enhance their live show. The lights were even brighter than their clothing, which as you can see from the clips and pictures, is pretty bright. It was like living in an episode of “Laugh In” for a second there.

Once they got started, I was totally drawn in. There was not one second that went by during their set where I was bored, spaced out, or dying to leave. I couldn’t have been more entertained by something so unfamiliar to me. I heard so many familiar elements from other bands as I listened to Tilly and the Wall. I heard some elements of Simon and Garfunkel, The Cars, The Bangles, The Octopus Project, and even Abba. Yes, Abba.

Tilly and Wall is something straight out of the 60s. If Tilly was around during the first Woodstock or The Monterey Pop Festival, they would have rocked those crowds and been legends by now. Your mom would be telling you about Tilly and the Wall. Instead, your once hippy mom will soon be asking you to put some Tilly and the Wall into her ipod for her.

Tilly is now a band I will continue to listen to. Pull my man card if you want. I don’t care. I probably left it Rilo Kiley anyway. I’d recommend Tilly and the Wall to anyone, and I mean anyone, even if for just their live show. Check out a clip of my favorite song of theirs, called “Pot Kettle Black”.

Tilly and the Wall standout tracks: Pot Kettle Black, Tall Tall Grass

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1 comment:

Tom said...

Not a bad band, but its bordering on a Man Card Revocation. Do you have yours? Go get your Man Card over at

Cool music site, its never bad to discover new music. I'm a Ringo Deathstar Fan myself.