Weekend shows highlight strengths, weaknesses of Savannah live music scene (lots of photos)

I haven’t been teaching this past week, so I’ve been going out a little more than usual.

On the advice of a friend, I checked out Les Racquet at Live Wire Music Hall on Thursday night. A really talented trio — great players. I wasn’t familiar enough with them to know any of their originals, but they were strong, even compared to the excellent and unpredictable covers like “Bennie and the Jets” and “I Will Survive”.

The sound was great, but there was one problem: very few people. Touring bands are used to meager crowds from time to time, and Les Racquet had only booked that gig a few days before. They should have a much bigger crowd on May 31st, when they return to Live Wire for a show that’s been booked for a while. Plus it was a busy night elsewhere downtown with all sorts of fashion-related events.

Still, via Facebook and word-of-mouth lots of local music fans knew about the Les Racquet gig — many had heard them on their previous stint playing shows at Live Wire and the Tybee Island Social Club. I had posted a few videos on my idiosyncratic 912 Music Calendar, which is focused on touring acts of note.

These United States at The Wormhole

On Friday evening I started at The Sentient Bean, which sometimes has problematic sound and uncertain crowds. But all was well on Friday: singer-songwriter Adam Sams and Besides Daniel (led by Danny Brewer) both sounded great, with a couple of dozen listeners paying rapt attention. Besides Daniel will be back in town on May 26th with 3 other bands at Taco Abajo.

From there I headed downtown to the SEAM (Savannah Emerging Artists Movement) launch party on the second floor of The Sparetime, featuring Triathalon. It’s a nice size room with a good vibe for special events, but a little stark with no stage and limited lighting. The limitations of the space were especially evident in the quick multimedia event announcing SEAM’s fashion show at Brockington Hall on June 1st (same night as Grace Potter and JJ Grey & Mofro in the SCAD graduation concert in Forsyth). Semi-clad male models carried female models out, unwrapped them to reveal the event details on pieces of fabric, and then rewrapped them and carried them off stage. But the announcement was so quick and the lighting so stark that the people around me had no idea what happened.

Despite some odd speaker placement and staging that virtually precluded decent photography, Triathalon sounded great, as usual. I’ve written about the band here and here. I had hyped Triathalon, which was booked for the SEAM party by Savannah Stopover, so much to a number of friends that I was afraid they’d be disappointed. No worries there, as it turned out. There was a nice crowd, especially considering how late the plans for the event were finalized.

On Saturday, I ended up at The Wormhole for These United States, an excellent, really polished, high-energy band led by Jesse Elliott. The sound was awesome, and the crowd was really engaged — but they certainly deserved more than the 40-60 people who were there at any one time. But with a $7 cover and some merch sales and a free place to stay for the night, the 5-piece band probably made out OK.

So: quality acts in town, pretty good production values for the most part, crowds ranging from really poor to OK.

I had a great three nights and witnessed some awesome talent. I just wish more people had shared the experiences. There were some other great shows around town over the weekend too — I hope those were of equally high quality with even better turnout.

Here come the pics:

  • A couple random shots of the Forsyth fountain on Thursday after the jets were turned off pretty late at night.
  • Les Racquet at Live Wire Music Hall.
  • Adam Sams and Besides Daniel at The Sentient Bean.
  • The multimedia happening at SEAM’s launch party at The Sparetime.
  • Triathalon at The Sparetime.
  • These United States at The Wormhole.

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