Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Morning Benders at the Detroit Bar

It is hard to believe that I have managed to catch The Morning Benders almost twelve times dating back to November 2007. The amount of musical growth from each gig attended was impressive. When I last saw them in January 2009 at the Detroit Bar, they had completely retooled all their songs from their superb debut album Talking Through Tin Cans.

When I interviewed lead singer and guitarist Chris Chu in May of 2008, Chris mentioned he wasn't interested in making the same album twice. This becomes very apparent with the release of their stellar sophomore album Big Echo. The packed Detroit Bar was evidence that other folks were interested in checking out their new tunes.

Miniature Tigers
Miniature Tigers had some major support at this show as it seems all their parents made it up to the front row to cheer for their respective children. Unveiling a handful of songs from their upcoming album, Miniature tigers worked through a ten song set infused with bits of different musical genres.

"Gold Skull" had lead singer Charlie Brand jump into the crowd for an informal dance party. I also gave Miniature Tigers points for switching up musical assignments as Algernon Quashie and Rick Schaier were trading back and forth between drums and guitars. My attempts to snap a picture of the setlist was thwarted due to the fact it was on Brand's cell phone. Gotta love technology.

Morning Benders
The line up for the The Morning Benders has evolved once more as Chris Chu is now joined by his brother Jon on guitar. The dense ghostly reverb of "Stitches" slowly built via the combined guitar powers of Chris and Jon. Chris was using a Hofner hollowbody guitar and passed along his Fender Telecaster to his brother.

The howls from crowd after the first song seemed to genuinely surprise Chris as the Detroit Bar wasn't nearly as full and vocal when they played less than a year ago. Ambient noises gave way to the percussive chugging chords of "Promises" with wavering vocals by Chris. The crowd even sang along to "la-da-da-da" vocal hook as Julian Harmon quietly tapped on his drums.

I was extremely envious of Tim Or's black Rickenbacker bass that sounded as beautiful as it looked. Rick Schaier from Miniature Tigers assisted the Morning Benders by adding some keyboards to round out their mix. "Cold War" seemed to warm up the crowd with its dance inspiring guitar chords and the sticky sweet vocal coos.

The hard driving bass line and thumping drums of "Hand Me Downs" were the main ingredients of song vividly colored by dispatches of reverb delayed guitars. Lighters and cell phones illuminated the Detroit Bar during "Mason Jar" as Schaier even got into the act with a lighter of his own while playing the keyboards. "All Day Day Light" shone exceptionally bright with its foot tapping beat and hollow reverb guitars.

The last sing along of the night was the best, as "Excuses" inspired the usually stoic Detroit Bar crowd to join Chris's harmonious vocal parts. It was not too surprising that they avoided their older material but it was impressive that they covered most of their new album. I will catch them again when they open for Broken Bells in a few months.

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