Noise Pop 2010: Man/Miracle at The Bottom of Hill
Man/Miracle, the three piece band lead by singer Dylan Travis, have enough talent to be a man miracle (in the least biblical sense) but I'm just prophesying. Opening at The Bottom of The Hill for Rogue Wave, the band was true to their debut album, The Shape of Things: great at times, but not throughout. Tracks like "Hot Sprawl," create a hot mess for critics. It's lush. It's new. The guitar riff is folksy with bluesy undertones, but the drum patterns and vocals make for a rock raga that make you just wanna get up and say "Hell yeah!" Then there are songs like "You've Got A Hold On Me," which are fine but lack those "it's." It's just good. Like their album, there were moments during their live where you don't even realize you're magically dancing, and then lows where you wonder, "Is this a different band?"
*all photos courtesy of Victoria Smith
Man/Miracle's shoegaze, and lo-fi sound erratically breaks at times into a wall of sound. Meaning, harmonies shift from melodies to crackling then sometimes build into intense, thick noise. This aptly describes the band's performance as a collective. Dylan Travis is killer. As he rips beautifully at his guitar with a wide-eye blank stare (almost crazy looking), he belts indiscernible lyrics that don't need to be discerned because it's his voice that matters. It's strong. It's got range. It's unique. It's penetratingly loud, but enjoyably fun. Again, there are many "it's." Not to be overlooked, the drumming is tight, and the backing guitarist goes from sedentary strumming to wile-'n-out head bobbing. I hate to hate, but the bassist just felt like the weak link. He wasn't bad, but his stage presence was almost awkwardly removed. He was just good.The lack of uniformity is actually the biggest problem with Man/Miracle. They're not sonically tight enough. A chord is a second off, a bass note is drowned, or a bit of the verse lost in the cluttered noise. These moments hinder the otherwise applauded performance. In time the kinks will be worked out.
Towards the end of their set, Dylan Travis invited his wife (I assumed from his ring finger) Rachel Williams to the stage to sing along. He says he's "in the zone," and asks if she feels the same. It's an awkward moment because she's not. A moment, which passes quickly as he says, "Let's get in the zone. I love you," before they rock out together, staring at each other the entire time as they play. There are always bumps, but when Man/Miracle seamlessly maintains the many "it's," - there will only be one needed to describe them: It's great.