Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Say the words "Utah band" and the only thing most of us are able to think about is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Vile Blue Shades are a good exception to that misconception about the beehive state's underground scene. Their music is a whirling, pulsating, sensual thing with a handful of percussionists, guitarists, keyboardists, a bassist, Meg the dancer and Ryan, their 6' 5" front-person who combines all the charm of Mark E. Smith with the subtlety of Andre the Giant.

Who knows what to attribute the flavor of these tunes to? Salt Lake's got a relatively urban feel, I guess. You can get Afghan food and a copy of the Financial Times downtown. But any place talk doesn't really explain or do justice to the excellent chemistry of this huge handful of players. Nothing about the grid towns, wide city blocks, polygamist enclaves, sandstone fins or cryptobiotic crust says a damn thing about the multi-celled, undulating organism that these folks are able to transform into once they hop on a stage.

Vile Blue Shades find a way to make you forget that orchestrating a six-piece band is a hell of a
task, let alone double that number. If not for the spot-on abilities and clarity of purpose that seem to glue this group together you'd have a annoyingly cacophonous amusical junk heap, or worse a derivative A Certain Ratio knockoff. Neither are true, rather, at a Vile Blue Shades show, one's treated to one of the best kept secrets in these parts.

(Photos by Dane Hansen, Total Fest VI, 2007)

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