The Music with The Vines: Pure Talent vs. Tainted Hype
J. Gordon
4/6/2003 3:21:23 PM

Given the unfortunate circumstances of a sudden death in guitarist Adam Nutter’s family (and his subsequent absence), you wouldn’t think that The Music would have had much of a show in St. Louis on April 5th. Well, you’d be wrong about that. It was a short set, to be sure, with only four or five songs, but their time on the stage was total magic and their closing tune was worth the $21 admission all by itself. With splinters flying off Phil Jordan’s drumsticks and Robert Harvey’s strong, impressive range of high notes and fuzzy alto-lows, The Music kept the crowd mesmerized and mad with excitement.

The band’s sound was surprisingly rich and layered and ethereal, even sans the electric guitar. Harvey’s vocals have the spiritual quality and mystery one could only compare to Tibetan throat singers pulling it off in a higher key—this 19-year-old's voice box sounds like several people singing at once without all the over-used pre-recorded tricks. The Music’s Celtic-like harmonies were matched with primitive percussion, urban break-beats, and reggae that left the house standing confused as to how three guys could possibly generate so much sound at one time. With their swirling, sullied-pop resonance, there have been many comparisons to bands like Oasis and the Stone Roses, but frankly, the difference is that The Music has a heart --something that their Manchester forefathers have yet to reveal.

The Vines’ lead singer, Craig Nichols, walked onto the stage to help The Music out with the opening song, “Getaway,” and floored the audience with the fact that underneath the sneers and all that punk gimmicry, he’s capable of some surprisingly beautiful, choir-boy harmonies (hence the halo in the picture, drawn by my talented pal, Jake Weisman, since my photo pass didn’t show up).

Five songs later, the Vines took over the stage, and Nichols modeled his trademark: the most perfect bed-head ever seen. True to form, The Vines got rowdy with their shouts and raucous ‘rawk,’ and surprised everyone with "Outtatheway" as their fourth song and not the encore, stirring up the intermittent mosh pit on the floor.

Yes, the Vines are tight and can clearly play, and Nichols proved earlier he can really sing. But after hearing what Nichols is really capable of with The Music, it feels like they're wasting their talents riding the garage-punk Hives trend. Nichols, true to his videos on MTV, hid behind his hair, stuck out his tongue, and writhed like he was having a seizure. It was a damn shame he decided to take off his shirt and reveal his pasty, pre-pubescent body for all the World to see. Ugh.

Liberal use of the F-word was about the only decipherable onstage banter from these thickly-accented Australian lads, and they clearly got off bickering with the audience and trying to start a scene. He smoked through his songs, which, given his soft, hairless chest and a roll of baby fat at the waist, just looked stupid and inappropriate. Still, the kids were excited as he poured soda on them and threw cigarettes their way—I guess that's still considered pretty Punk Rock but in my book it's Old Hype. Still, beneath the antics, the purposefully retarded facial expressions, the instrument thrashing, kicking over cymbals and spinning and tossing guitars (he never really got the guts to smash the thing), the Vines had some decent harmony and licks to get you excited for what they might one day become when they grow up.


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