The bands that took the stage at the Krannert Art Museum on Thursday night faced the unique task of performing in a space not designed specifically for live music. While there have certainly been more difficult venues that groups have had to cope with, it was interesting to see which bands would rise to the challenge and transform the museum’s atmosphere. Read on to see how they fared.
Faced with an unjustly small crowd, this Chicago soul-rock group found their groove about two songs into the set. Catfish Haven is blessed with some of the most talented back-up singers in the business and their enthusiastic choreography makes the band’s live shows a treat for the eyes as well as the ears. Lead singer George Hunter was in especially good form on favorites like “Tell Me” and “Crazy For Leaving,” and the new material performed captivated the crowd, including the members of Oxford Collapse.
One of the most interesting bands signed to indie powerhouse Sub Pop Records, Oxford Collapse dove into their performance full force. Taking advantage of the museum’s low-to-the-ground stage, both guitarist Michael Pace and bassist Adam Rizer moved in and out of the crowd. Pace seemed unfazed by some technical difficulties, serenading the audience while Rizer and drummer Dan Fetherston scrambled to fix the glitch. The raucous “Please Visit Your National Parks” was the highlight of this set and will probably still be ringing in my ears next week.
Kudos to Evangelicals for bringing their own lights and a smoke machine. It made the space feel a little bit more like a club and less like a high school cafeteria. The Oklahoma quartet made themselves at home in Champaign, name-dropping Headlights and joking about throwing a party at Erin Fein’s house. Their avant-garde performances of “Snowflakes,” “Paperback Suicide,” and “Skeleton Man,” were eerie at times and undeniably cool.
The crowd I was waiting to see all night finally showed up for Murder By Death. They shouted along to “Brother,” danced to “Until Morale Improves, The Beatings Will Continue” and generally rocked out during “Comin’ Home.” Singer Adam Turla was a force to be reckoned with, spitting out haunting tales of “bad dudes” and whiskey. The crowd was still buzzing as they began to file out after the show, and it was the perfect ending to a great evening at the Krannert Art Museum.