The Fiery Furnaces Enchant at the Highdive

Maybe it is just because we’re Champaign, nestled in the heart of a cornstalk empire, that the band didn’t try anything extremely off-beat from their style for shock value. Like, say, forgetting that Matt is a god at keyboard and simply not bringing a keyboard, or spinning so far off from their songs and forgetting that people generally don’t like to ask themselves, “do I..? wait is this… a song from so and so? wait shit… what?,” because they played exactly what I wanted and needed. They did, in fact, build the audience’s anticipation – and respect – by tweaking their songs with revamped “this will make you rock” versions, as if they didn’t before.

And then there was their stage presence. It may just be that I don’t get it, but Eleanor seemed… odd. It was like she was trying to maintain a cutesy nervous manner throughout the show, but I don’t think I buy it. For instance, she would get down on the ground in just about every song and “close in on herself,” but she was completely aware of people watching her. She would kind of rock back and forth the music and touch her face a lot and, frankly, I was so intrigued with this activity that sometimes I would miss what I’m sure was an enchanting keyboard solo surge.

I suppose I’ve focused into the stage presence pretty intently, only because the set and the music – the stuff I live for – was enchanting in it’s perfection. See, when people criticize the Fiery Furnaces about not living up to their off-the-beaten-trail style, lately, I think they’re wrong. I like the cleaner — yet still off the trail — music that is more accessible to connect to, more readily available to rock to, while still throwing in a riveting “this is great!” jam. Obviously, to me anyway, “Evergreen” was the best song, but something about the encore song, “Restorative Beer” from their latest album Widow City really had a peppy-fun attitude. Not to mention the unintended “Cabaret of the Seven Devils” Eleanor asked to play during their encore that really set everyone off – which only lead to be the last song. Sigh. If I had to review it in simple terms of good, bad, or ugly, I would say great, and I want more.

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