July 25, 2005

Cartel w/ Driving in Silence @ Club Five 7/22

Club Five's new venture into rock music, under the direction of promoter Kyle Star, is so far showing a lot of promise. For Friday night's show, the club welcomed Driving in Silence, Cartel, and The Upwelling, three talented, burgeoning rock acts with very different styles.

Driving in Silence played an acoustic show as a duo, since they have been experiencing problems with their drummer, yet the performance was made all the more emotional and powerful for the lack of background noise. Their songs were stripped down to the barest essentials, and as a result, they reached the emotional core. Archie's vocals in the last song were beautifully reminiscent of the Counting Crows' 1993 track, "Raining in Baltimore," but taken to new heights with an emo edge.

Cartel took the stage next, starting with "Fleets (MP3)," an atmospheric endeavor that begins with Doves-like pounding drums and the soft drawn-out vocals of Brian Leatherman and builds to a climax of ethereal guitar riffs. Their style is attributable to bands like Elbow, Placebo, The Cure, and New Order, an unusual group of influences for a band from Washington, DC. Brian shared vocal duties with keyboardist/guitarist Luke Mangels, whose voice gave off a deeper, choppier sound, taking the music in the retro direction of Robert Smith.

They played a few of the 5 songs released on their self-released Safety in Numbers EP, and a few new unreleased songs, including the uplifting culmination, "Safe From Harm." According to Brian, the band is writing new songs all of the time. "We're all perfectionists. We're never satisfied with what we have," he said after the show. They have certainly perfected the material they have released so far, and are being closely watched by promoters and labels from here to London.

I did not see The Upwelling perform, as I was interviewing Ed and Brian of Cartel. Read the interview here.