Eureka Birds came by last week for their microshow and it was magical. They were as much a joy to listen to as they were to watch as they played with the musical possibilities in each moment. This is a band that obviously has fun with their music and it comes across in the dark playfulness of their tunes.
Justin came in early to tune his 350-pound “portable” Yahama P70 Piano. He brought along cellist Dami and Allin, the synth/sampler player. Dave, ordinarily the guitarist, played percussion.
The band was in a great mood and that added to the creative fun of the show. We enjoyed watching Dami try out different melodies on her cello during rehearsal and then seeing her go with something completely different during the show as the fancy struck her. Halfway through the first set, a request came from the audience for “Ten Words”. During the break, the band discussed the possibilities since they hadn’t rehearsed it with that night’s line-up and the band member who usually sings the female part wasn’t present. There was talk of moving Mobtown’s Farfisa organ out into the live room for an impromptu organ set and the band settled on a surreptitiously placed kazoo instrumental.
At the end of the second set, Justin explained the history behind the song (the ten words Harry Houdini promised to speak to his wife from beyond the grave) and started in with the song. The lyrics dramatized the story of Houdini’s conversation with his wife and Justin briefly switched into an improvised falsetto with the comment that this was the voice of the “wife”. After a couple verses, a female voice was heard from the floor and it was Eureka Birds fan Jen Smith of Naked Blue chiming in with the female part. The playful theatre of it all was complete when Dave whipped out the kazoo from his pocket and started his solo.
The crowd responded with huge applause, laughing and hooting along with Eureka Birds’ intense yet mischievous take on a stripped down micro-show at Mobtown. Justin is a fabulous songwriter, unafraid to take creative risks other musicians might shy away from. This is just the beginning for these guys. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
Tech stuff: U87 on vocals, spaced pair of SM81s on the piano, C3 and DI on the cello, Oktava 012 on the sampler and a AT PZM for the percussion/room sounds.
Recorded on March 12, 2009 at Mobtown Studios
Vocals and piano by Justin Levy
Cello by Dami
Synth by Allin
Percussion by Dave
Vocals by Jen Smith
Produced by Mat Leffler-Schulman
Artwork by David Manchester