[Live Review] – Safe Word, Mr. Gnome – at Drunken Unicorn 10.15.09

17 10 2009

Thursday October 15th I has a few choices on what to go see in the Atlanta Music scene.  For some reason there were quite a few great choices… Judi Chicago was playing, The Selmanaires and Atlas Sound had already sold out the Earl, and Mr. Gnome was playing at Drunken Unicorn. Being a simple person I decided to head to the Drunken Unicorn because I’ve already seen the other bands several times… and what a great decision that turned  out to be.

My pal Drew and I piled up in the old mystery machine and headed to the Drunken Unicorn.  Sadly I read the flier wrong and we showed up about 40 minutes before the doors opened.  The only close by refuge was the gay bar at the top of the hill so we took shelter from the rain there.  I also got to see first hand that Drew is a gay/transient magnet… but that’s another story.

Soon after, the venue opened and the night commenced.  The first act was The Peppermint Confederacy. Their a folky rocky country type that (to be perfectly honest) just wasn’t my thing.  This is one of the occasions where a separate bar area can be useful.

Safe Word

Safe Word

Next up was Safe Word, who (mentioned previously) I was willing to give a chance to.   The show started and immediately I could hear that they definitely have potential.  There’s several things in the plus column: Chick lead who plays bass and guitar, fun interesting songs you wouldn’t expect a girl to sing about, youthful energy that they don’t even appear aware of.  (Protip: Playing the bass and singing lead is like counting by sevens while working at Denny’s… You can do it, but it sucks) The Negatives: The band could use some tightening up… This was the first show with their new drummer and it felt like they only got one practice in.  Also, their stage presence could use some work… pauses aren’t your friend when you’re on stage.  Over-all I was a bit disappointed with their showing, but I’m not giving up on them yet.

Mr. Gnome (not pictured: Nicole's ability to destroy worlds...)

Mr. Gnome (not pictured: Nicole's ability to destroy worlds...)

Last up was Mr. Gnome, who up until this point I had heard only a little about.  I am going to write the next sentence with as much intensity as I possibly can.  Sweet Zombie Jesus. Mr. Gnome was, hands down, the greatest performance I have seen all year… and it’s October.  They are a two piece that made more sound than both bands combined before them.  Nicole Barille plays guitars and does the vocals while Sam Meister plays drums, keyboards, and the laptop… proving to me that he is a robot sent back in time to destroy every band they play with.  Nicole is a small unassuming girl who apparently got her Master’s degree from Hogwarts. She is some kind of dark wizard with a billion pedals which control every form of distortion pedal and tape delays known to man.

All nonsense aside, Mr. Gnome put on a spectacular performance with haunting tunes and pin-point accurate technique.  At one point Nicole pulls out the old tape-delay trick where you play one part, let it loop, then play another part of top of it.  I’ve seen other acts pull this off (The Rentals) but she pulled it off with such precision and sheer awesomeness that I turned to Drew and shouted “HOLY SHI…”.  The only down-side to their show was that there were only about 10 people in the room to hear them… But there was a LOT of competition in Atlanta that night.  The next time they play through Atlanta, I highly recommend them.




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