April 15, 2005
Fiery Furnaces at Emory
Thanks to goldenfiddle I found out there was a free Fiery Furnaces concert over at Emory. It was open to the public, but space was limited. So after work, we headed right over to the university to wait for the doors to open. A few students lounged around the activity center; it seemed no one wanted to appear overeager by forming anything that resembled a line. Still, we all got to our feet pretty quickly once it was time to go in the theater.
I'm not very familiar with their music, so I didn't know what to expect. The quiet, low-key woman I'd seen walking around and talking with an acquaintance earlier became this intense, edgy, steely-eyed rock singer.
She was provoked early on. Someone in the front line, right in front of her, in fact, sat on the floor while everybody else in the theater was standing. Some people were so excited they couldn't contain themselves, they were already jumping or dancing around. She had to tell the guy THREE times that no, man, she wasn't kidding, he couldn't sit there, he had to stand up like everybody else. People were being turned away at the door, but apparently this asshat didn't realize he was at a rock concert.
The Furnaces were fantastic. Their set was like a composition. They played their songs without pause, interweaving snippets of longer songs like "Blueberry Boat" between other songs. The set was really polished, really tight. They delivered loud, raucous rock and did not disappoint. Having listened now to the album Blueberry Boat, their live harder punk sound made for an interesting contrast and great performance. The drummer - who else could he be in that tight flashy black shirt with white flowers - was wild-eyed, seemingly possessed as he played. (And significantly irritated with his stool, switching it out and tossing the other one off to the side.) At one point the singer was really fed up with one of their songs. She cut it off just as the drummer was about to keep going. She looked over at her brother on guitar, saying bluntly, "No no no the song is over, that was terrible. Terrible."
During the first encore the singer and guitarist did a few songs without the rest of the band, playing some new material. They're not much for banter - a quick announcement of the next song and they'd begin. Then they left and everybody came back for another brief encore.
As we walked back to the car, we passed the drummer sitting near the loading dock. I said thanks for the show and he thanked us for coming.
Afterwards grabbed a late dinner, some excellent fish 'n' chips. Alas, there was some guy singing covers of Steve Miller and John Mayer, as well as ruining Stevie Wonder songs, accompanied by bongos, cheered on by people at the bar. Talk about a contrast.