Friday nights at Columbia Street West are often entertained by familiar covered tracks that are intended to appeal to the dancing masses. Although I do enjoy spending my evenings of workweek reward bouncing aimlessly to Journey’s greatest hits (false), the recently acquired styling’s of Mr. Jon Ross (Superhunk, Definitely Gary) for booking C-street Fridays has brought about new sounds and progressive change for the local scene.
I was in attendance on the weekend opener for a refreshingly unique act from Cleveland called Mr. Gnome. On a stage that is certainly familiar with explosive two-piece acts, the female vocalist’s siren song found it’s way through a half clean - half tweaked microphone set and into the satisfied ears of an eager crowd. The tuft of hair strategically draped atop her head created a brunette vale that would aid in both the hiding of her face and the frenetic display taking place. Her tones were wide, operatic at times, and accompanied by a cosmically soothing electric guitar that drove with a compelling energy. To her left on the sideways five-piece, a barefooted drummer drifted back and forth between ghost note jazz grooves and straight ahead rock beats. His playing was filled with high energy and athleticism, but also allowed for an appropriate use of space when downshifting to mellower moods. At times, he traded in his kit for a MIDI keyboard and an Apple laptop as drum-free bars were thickened with backing digital melodies.
Nicole Barille and Sam Meister make up an arsenal of psychedelic delight that subdues its listeners with unpredictable arrangements and celestial effects. The lyrical and poetic content takes you from the comfort of your headphones and puts you into the world depicted on the cover of their latest album, Heave Yer Skeleton. While reading along with track 4, Plastic Shadow, I could feel the building anxiety that forces Barille to belt out an intense “Alright…” followed by an exhausted “…you wanna give in” after each verse couplet. Her lost-in-thought approach and bent phonetics provide a descriptive imagery that complements in the telling of their story and allows the listener to find a relatable commonality.
Mr. Gnome will undoubtedly reside apart from the mundane noise created by many mainstream acts. Their incorporation of artistry, creativity, and passionate performance will provide them with the tools necessary for musical success and individualism. Their original approach to music truly left me inspired all the while chanting “Three more songs!” Although that may seem a bit demanding, a 40-minute set with this pungent sound is simply not enough.
Check them out online: