Monday, May 5, 2008

Eisley delivers with a tight and impressive performance

It’s always a nice surprise when opening bands perform in order of greatness. Such was the case at Park West on Friday night for Eisley’s headlining show. Before the show, I was unsure of what to expect from the opening bands as I’d never experienced either one of them before. Within the first few songs of Vedera’s set, I saw promising talent that complimented some strong songwriting and vibrant personalities. Yet once they started playing songs that they claimed are from their new EP, I felt like I was witnessing a knock-off of Sixpence None The Richer . . . and believe me, that is not a good thing.

Shortly after that was over, The Myriad took the stage. Once again, I had no idea what to expect, and since Vedera sounded somewhat similar to Eisley, albeit in a very muddled down and distilled manner, it was easy to imagine this band being more of the same. That was quite an unfair assumption on my part as The Myriad was truly a spectacle all in their own right. It’d be easy to say that The Myriad embodied the theatric delivery of a band like Ours and the undeniable talent of Muse, but in their defense, they were very much their own band and their own style. Their entire set was very entertaining and at times, hypnotizing, as the songs played out like stories, complete with big dramatic endings. It was a tough act to follow, but if anyone could pull it off, Eisley could.

Opening with “Go Away,” a song from their newest album, Eisley sounded even tighter than when I’d seen them last year. It seemed that all the touring they had done had turned them into a well-oiled machine. Throughout the set, they didn’t focus on any one album to cull material from, which seemed like a good move since most of the crowd cheered for classics from their old days like “Lady of the Woods” and “Mr. Pine.” They also played a few songs from their Like The Actors EP (“Sun Feet” and the title track), which was released in December. The only letdown came in the middle of “I Could Be There For You.” On the record, the song crescendos to otherworldly heights with the vocals layered so intensely that you’d swear the whole band was singing. Performed live, only guitarist/vocalist Sherri DuPree sang that section and it was a bit of a disappointment.

Between a few songs, Sherri felt the urge to tell the crowd that Chicago really is their favorite city to play in – and while a lot of bands say that, it sounded genuine coming from them. It was truly evident in their impressive performance and desire to please the crowd with a well balanced setlist. Even if Chicago isn’t Eisley’s actual favorite city to play in, I think it’d be safe to say that Chicago would still welcome them back with open arms in the future. - Neil Miller, Jr.