young ideas with the bicycles and just like the movies at the Rivoli, January 4. Tickets: $6 Attendance: 150. Rating: NNN
I'm guessing if you're a lead singer who performs from behind a piano, you have to work just a little bit harder to command the attention of an audience than you would if you were standing behind a guitar or a microphone.It's the reason Tori Amos rides that bench like she wants to suck it right up inside her, the reason Ben Folds jumps up on top of his piano, the reason Elton John and Nina Simone... well, the reason they are Elton John and Nina Simone.
Alas, Mitch Willer of local trio Young Ideas remained unobtrusively ensconced behind his keyboard off to stage right at their CD launch Saturday night at the Rivoli. Neither bassist Sarah McElcheran nor drummer Greg Millson managed to cut an engaging enough presence -- no banter, few smiles -- to fill the frontperson slot. Invited guest Gentleman Reg, though a fine singer who spent a great chunk of the show onstage with the band, wasn't up to the task either.
The crowd at the full house thinned considerably over the course of their set.
Too bad for them. The Young Ideas are really good, playing beautifully crafted, lyrically clever, sophisticated piano baroque pop/indie rock tunes. Willer's voice is alternately strong and wistful. McElcheran is adroit on the trumpet as well as the bass. Sonically, piano, bass and drums is a great set-up. As with Ben Folds Five, there's no void.
Perhaps it seemed especially low-key compared to the Bicycles. Greater in number and slightly more commanding, the Bicycles showcased a few smashing voices and a real purdy cover of Femme Fatale.
The most energetic set of the night, however, was that of Just Like the Movies, the novelty act of Chris Mills, a comedian and rapper with a keyboard. It takes balls to stand up onstage and act like a massive goof in front of a bunch of strangers, but Mills pulls it off admirably, changing character mid-set from masked rapper doing jumping jacks to Bananarama to screeching heavy metal dude.
Somehow, though, I fear this wouldn't be nearly as good on CD.email@example.com