As many of you know, I go to quite a few shows throughout the Midwest. Over the last 20 years I’ve probably gone to close to 400. I’ve seen The Faint a good dozen times and Azure Ray four or five times. I think it’s safe to say that I’m familiar with Omaha indie power couple Todd and Orenda Fink’s previous work. At the Slowdown Friday night (8/10) they presented an experience that was absolutely breathtaking.
With their new project Closeness, Todd and Orenda take pieces of their past and meld them together to make something truly special. Fans of The Faint will feel at home with the upbeat drum loops and Todd’s often robotic vocal overlays. Fans of Azure Ray will surely embrace Orenda’s soaring angelic vocals. When the two come together to harmonize over a deep synth beat it’s something truly magical.
Before I dive into the musical nirvana that was Closeness, there were a couple other bands on the bill.
The first band of the night was local three-piece Digital Leather. Playing multiple keyboards, drums, and bass, the band had an interesting sound. I personally heard a mix of Joy Division, The Killers, and Interpol. Singer Shawn Foree does the majority of the writing and recording, however Todd Fink did join Digital Leather for a few years and helped Shawn record their LP “All Faded” with the help of his brother Clarke Baechle also of The Faint. So far, Shawn has released over a dozen recordings and toured internationally. I also heard that there is a new Digital Leather record in the works.
The set had a little something for everyone, punk rock, synth rock, spacey noise rock, and some new wave tones. The pace was really upbeat and I saw many in the crowd happily bobbing along. I really enjoyed the fullness of their sound. It’s amazing that so much was packed into just three keyboards, drums, and bass. If you get the chance, check Digital Leather out on Spotify and Apple Music.
After Digital Leather was the band Net from Oklahoma City. These guys took things in a different direction with fuzzed out guitars, crazy synth solos, and snappy barked vocals akin to At The Drive-In but with less of a scream. If I had to make comparisons I would say they were a mix of The Strokes, Ramones, Frank Zappa, and T-Rex. Playing for a good half hour, Net shook the crowd with their crazy mix of digital punk rock madness.
After the set, I spoke with lead singer Kyle Vasquez about Net’s inception, touring with The Flaming Lips, and recording new music.
Stories From The Crowd: That was a great set! There were a ton of different sounds going on up there.
Kyle: Thanks, man!
Stories: So how long have you guys been together?
Kyle: We’ve been playing for about a year. I recorded the record we just played in a small room by myself. When it was time to take it on the road I got together with some friends in other OKC bands and we put it all together.
Stories: Wow, you recorded all the parts? That’s awesome. Have you guys been touring long?
Kyle: We had done a couple small runs and then The Flaming Lips put us on their pre-show playlist. They offered to take us out on tour, so of course we said yes. It was a really small run of shows, but it was great.
Stories: Oh yea, they’re also from OKC! That totally makes sense. The Flaming Lips are sweet.
Kyle: Yea it was so much fun. We’re on another small run of shows now, playing in Springfield, MO tomorrow.
Stories: Very nice. Do you guys have plans for a new record soon?
Kyle: Yea, we’re working on new material now. Before, I recorded everything myself, but now it’s a collaborative effort.
Stories: It will be interesting to see what you guys come up with after putting all your heads together. I look forward to hearing it. Thanks so much for talking with me.
Kyle: You’re welcome. Good luck with your blog!
After my chat with Kyle it was time for Closeness to take the stage. It was a really different setup compared to what I’m used to seeing. The other bands took all of their gear off leaving a completely empty stage. Todd and Orenda setup a small trunk with two microphones, a few small keyboards and some electronics boards. Towards the front of the stage was a small work lamp-type light. On one side was a guitar and the other a bass. The house lights went down, smoke filled the air and slow deep bass notes rang out. The first song had a real mellow, low-key vibe as Todd slowly strummed a guitar and Orenda played bass. All around me the crowd swayed softly to the sultry rhythm.
The set started a little slow, but quickly picked up some BPMs. Every track had that trademark electronic Fink sound; high pitched synth over heavy bass and layered vocals that sound like the future calling. As the sound washed over the crowd I had chills! Closeness played about eight songs before thanking the crowd for coming out. This was my 19th show so far this year and I would put it toward the very top of my list.
After the show I talked with some folks who said it was the best show they had seen in a year. You’ll get no argument from me. I was blown away. As I mentioned at the top of the article all of the memories of The Faint and Azure Ray shows came flooding back and I was just so happy to see Todd and Orenda performing together. Truth be told, I actually had some different plans for the night, but I’m so so glad things took a detour and I was able to catch this show. I will remember it for years to come. You can find Closeness music on Apple, Spotify, and Amazon streaming services or on FaceBook.
If you like what you read please share! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram @storiesfromthecrowd or subscribe to receive weekly updates.
If you would like Stories From The Crowd to be at your next event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I can travel and I’m pretty flexible on schedule, but I’m off on Sundays.
Thanks for reading!