Keep Shelly in Athens – Roxy – 11-8-11 Keep Shelly in Athens – Roxy – 11-8-11

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Special Thanks to Grimy Goods for presenting the show.

Keep Shelly in Athens; It’s not just a clever name. This four-piece electro-pop band actually hails from Athens, Greece, and are at that fragile point of their career where it takes a little more than just a routine effort on Google to find out anything beyond the most basic information about them.

I arrived at The Roxy just in time for the opener, Kisses, a Los Angeles based, three-piece composed of Jesse Kivel & Zinzi Edmundson, a cute 20-something couple, and their drummer. As the curtain opened, lead singer, Jesse, greeted the crowd with the generic rhetorical question of how they were doing. In the same breath he abrasively blurted “well I’m gonna tell you how we’re doing….not good!” Kisses left their laptop at home and couldn’t afford the time to go back and get it, and as such were forced to do their entire set without it. That was their story for the night and Jesse would repeatedly callback the 40 or so attendees’ attention to that theme with tongue-in-cheek quips like, “I’m feeling mellow tonight” and “I’m just trying to figure out where we should take this”. Without their laptop the set had sort of an adult contemporary, indie-rock thing going on blended with cutesy and honest lyrics. Rounding out their set with a Robert Palmer cover, Jesse seemingly proclaimed his love to bandmate / keyboardist / percussionist, Zinzy with their last song “Midnight Lover”, saying how it was about her. Close to the end of the set but still insistent on bringing up his computer he yelled to the crowd, “Fuck technology!”, to which they laughed and then he fired, “Fuck the internet!” The crowd erupted with enthusiasm, which elicited Jesse to reply earnestly, “but how would you have heard of us?”

 

Amid the recent rumors circulating that Keep Shelly in Athens will be playing Coachella in 2012, they took the stage Tuesday night at the Roxy for what would be their first LA show. The band has some mystery behind them. They’ve come out of nowhere and garnered some blog-attention despite really only playing about a dozen live shows all together. Their most recent, and first US show ever, was at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin last weekend. The recordings I’d heard from them prior to this show had only fanned the flames of their mystery. Their gloomy compositions that are on occasion menacing feature a somber, almost black-and-white feel. From lead singer Sarah P’s vocals, and the oft-felt trip-hop vibe, I’m forced to drop a Portishead reference. But seeing KSIA play a 14-song, hour long set, I felt very little of that at all. They’re new and they’re young and although they are certainly talented, this night the band didn’t seem to be in-synch with each other. They played a rather simple, straight-forward set that lacked some of the musical aesthetics and ambiance I’d heard on their records.

 

Musically, the band is very technically sound. And I don’t want to paint them with the doom and gloom brush because not all of their songs are ominous; they have some dancier songs that incorporate whistles in achieving an 80s-fused electro soul sound. There are even hints of jazz and funk when the band is at its grooviest. Keep Shelly in Athens has potential. Sarah P is cute, but both with her mannerisms and her vocals she fails to establish a distinct persona or significant stage presence. Optimistically, I think they can improve and gain confidence with more shows. Perhaps we’ll get to find out at the Polo Fields in April.

Pictures from Keep Shelly in Athens @ The Roxy
Pictures By Ben Irwin

Kisses @ The Roxy
Pictures By Ben Irwin



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