erasing clouds

Live Review: Decibully, The Catacombs Coffeehouse, Madison, WI, October 18th, 2003

by steve hanson

The Milwaukee septet of Decibully, with Renee Patt, played to a small crowd in the basement rectory-turned-coffeehouse that is the Catacombs. After listening to their pre-leased tracks of "On the Way to Your Hotel" and "Tables Turn," I was extremely interested in hearing this band play live. I wanted to see for myself if they could live up to standards set by those tracks. With Decibully being a septet, the first two tracks on their new album, City of Festivals, are complex, yet well choreographed and composed pieces of music. I was doubtful that they could faithfully reproduce that sound live.

However, within the limits of the venue, they did very well. A majority of the credit should go to the amazing skills of drummer Aaron Void (Asotia, Por Avion) who knows when to just keep a beat, and when to take the lead and be the primary instrument. The multi-instrumentalist duo of Nicholas Sandorn and Ryan Weber (the Promise Ring) provides an amazing edge to the music, whether it be in the form of perfectly sequenced electronic exclamations, or soft accompaniment with a lap steel and a wurlitzer. These two can easily give John Stirratt a run for his money any day of the week. Lead vocals and acoustic guitar were performed by William Seidel, with Renee Patt providing harmony. Seidel would normally shine in any band he was in, yet in this set-up, he does not take the lead. His excellent and wide-ranged voice does not take away from the other instruments, but rather melds with the music, resulting in a well-balanced performance that relies equally on all parts. This is vital to the energy of Decibully, as any imbalance would throw off the collectiveness of the music that makes it very appealing (much akin to the Jayhawks circa Tomorrow the Green Grass).

The music of Decibully is a transgression from the standards of emo, which relied on following tried-and-true forms. Taking the lessons they learned from that phase of music, and from the Promise Ring's final album, Decibully takes it to the next stage, where more elements are combined. Influences are taken from country, blues, and electronic music to form what sounds a whole helluva like Wilco, at times. However, the main difference in the two bands lies in the in the ability of Decibully to retain a solid style, while incorporating many different pieces. Wilco, on the other hand, lacks this consistency, and thus their music often seems experimental (and then their record label won't release their album). Decibully takes the amazing skills of its members, and uses them to find a unique place in music today. Decibully should appeal to a wide range of music tastes, extending beyond the emo crowd and into the alt-country folks and those of us who just like it all.


Issue 16, October 2003

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