by Jeff Hahne
Joanna Lynne, The Stellas; Last November, No Second Troy, Flagship Brigade
The Evening Muse
Feb. 21, 2009
The Deal: A variety of acts hits The Evening Muse, including the first-ever acoustic show by Charlotte's The Stellas.
The Good: Joanna Lynne kicked off the evening with an acoustic set showcasing her talent as a singer and songwriter. No other way to say it than, damn, the girl's got pipes! Her higher vocal range reminded me of Jewel, but you'd never mistake the two as the same performer. Lynne more often stayed in a lower tones showing effortless power when needed and giving slight harmonies with her lone bandmate/conga player.
With one act cancelling, it was The Stellas who hit the stage next performing its first acoustic show. When asked why, they said it was just to change things up and show fans a different side of them. It worked well as the songs were stripped down, but didn't lose the energy or appeal. My only comparison is this Nirvana went unplugged and became a completely different band; Foo Fighters went unplugged and remained the Foo Fighters, with the same energy and exuberance for all its songs. The Stellas followed the Foo model for acoustic performances while giving a little more insight into the lyrics.
The late show was started by Last November who was performing without two members of the group. They did a good job with not canceling the show and getting out and performing with acoustic guitars instead.
No Second Troy's modern rock was up next giving hints of psychedelia and even moments of something more country folk. Definitely a talented group of musicians who go for more of an ambient note-by-note sound instead of a strumming-and-rocking method.
The evening closed out with a set by Flagship Brigade's U2-meets-MuteMath sound.
The Bad: The younger crowd was diggin' it, but I just couldn't get into Last November. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they were performing in a style that's not the norm for them. Flagship Brigade was simply loud and the singer didn't have much range in his vocals. Maybe I'll give them the benefit of the doubt as well and say I was exhausted and worn out from the previous four acts. I'd give each another shot before writing them off...
The Verdict: A great showcase of music that went from peacefully acoustic to power rock in a matter of moments. It made me want to see Lynne again, listen to The Stellas album for an unplugged vs. plugged comparison and give No Second Troy's disc a second listen.