Tan Vampires, The Lucid
Empire Dine and Dance
July 15, 2011
Perhaps it was the newest teenage-wizard movie premier, or perhaps it was all the G Loving on the Maine State Pier, but Friday night at the Empire was quiet. Come rock time, there were 10 people upstairs, not including the bored bartenders, but despite the sparse turnout, Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Tan Vampires took the stage.
The five-piece has mastered their own style of indie blues, held steady by Jake Mehrmann, whose lead vocals are gorgeous and captivating, while Nick Phaneuf complements with auxiliary guitar and vocals. Their gothic, murky sound lurks and twists under clear and pained vocals, building into furious crescendos. Mike Effenberger was, after Mehrmann, the most valuable player in the ensemble, providing rich and unique texture to every song with his set of keyboards and organ tones.
Tan Vampires had every delicate moment planned and rehearsed to studio perfection for this live show, so much so that it felt like listening to a high-quality recording. They’re reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, with less nasally vocals and more soul. The song “Threads” was a standout, and can be heard on their Myspace page.
Whoever booked this show got the pairing right, but the lineup reversed. Portland four-piece The Lucid were up next, and soon filled the room with so much fog-machine vapor that the bar in the back of the room was like a swampy mirage. Their starchy pop rock recalls that of As Fast As, with big group vocals and overblown power chords – just the sort of generic fluff that gets me yawning, though the crowd had thickened to around 30 heads by this time. Before their set ended, I slipped out through the fog.
— Anders Nielsen