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Review by Steve Gisselbrecht
This was to have been one of those weird, happy/sad occasions: the CD release breakup show. In fact, the CDs did not arrive in time. Alas, Fooled By April are not postponing the breakup until the CDs get here. A couple of touring bands open the night; I miss the first one, but see most of The Redwalls' set. They are very, very young, and they have an early Beatles sort of sound going on. You can't argue with that. (I myself prefer the late Beatles, after the drugs had done their work, but the early stuff was still charming and fun.) The two singers are brothers, so their voices blend really well on the pretty harmonies.
Pretty harmonies will be a theme this evening. Scamper have them in spades. Now, I'll admit that I thought this room might be kind of empty for this show, so I'm very pleased to see a respectable crowd for my boys. They are pretty obviously riding a crazy emotional roller coaster this evening: thrilled to be playing to such a great crowd in such a big room, crushed to be losing their dear friends and brother-band Fooled By April. Brendan seems to be feeling this disconnect particularly strongly. Sometimes he's clowning around and riffing on the Dentyne girls. (There are Dentyne girls; don't ask.) Other times he seems near tears. But what about the music, you ask. Scamper's songs are perfect little pop gems, built around obscenely great hooks, and they've become really polished and excellent performers in the last year or so. What's more, they start with a new one that actually has minor-key verses—I always like to hear a band branch out and incorporate new things into their repertoire. The synchronized jump takes advantage of the risers on the sides of the stage, and with all that space they still manage to crash into each other. Joe from Fooled By April joins them for one song, and it's a pretty emotional moment.
If they were emotional, Fooled By April are a mess onstage, but a good mess. From what I hear, they don't actually want to break up; their lives just won't let them stay together any more. I would think it would be hard to play and sing in such a state, but they sound great. They, too, traffic in gorgeous pop songs, simple and catchy and lovely. Since all four of them sing, the harmonies are over-the-top beautiful. Joe plays lead guitar with a lot of pedals, and these contribute the only technical glitch of the night, when his signal just inexplicably cuts out mid-song. The usual flurry of unplugging and replugging later, he is back in the game, and if their sound is a little thin without lead guitar, their vocal melodies are great enough to work by themselves. After a night and a show like this, if they hadn't finished up with a group hug after the encore, I might have asked for my money back.
live show summary
Date: June 4, 2005 (Saturday)