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May 14, 2007

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Every live show I attend seems to teach me some lesson about life: whether it be a lesson in Greek mythology (brought to me by the drunkard next to me at the bar), a lesson on how to avoid my art professor (who has yet to give me my grade for the semester), or just a plain and simple one like, for instance, a lesson in punctuality.

I was bitterly disappointed when I arrived at Cain's Ballroom to learn that my most recent rock obsession, Snowden, had already left the stage. It seems Cain's Ballroom is the only venue in Oklahoma that manages to stick to it's said schedule.

Despite my reluctance to watch an entire set by Kings of Leon on this night, I was determined my night would not end in such a disappointment. Just to see what all the fuss was about, I wove myself into a dude-bro-infested crowd to hear a band that I felt had been over-sentimized by the beer-pong-obsessed frat boys back at school.

I managed to leave my snobbery behind for a moment as the Kings took the stage, and within seconds, the Cain's trampoline-like wooden floors literally began to rock beneath me. To my surprise, what did I find?: a pure form of rock that was actually rocking my socks.

In the midst of the head banging and fist pumping crowd, I listened. I tapped my foot. I re-evaluated my opinion of the band, especially after the song "On Call." The thudding beats led me to smile and dance.

So, maybe I was a little impressed. Maybe the "Chad's and Nancy's" had something in common with me after all. But perhaps the reason I am repeating "maybe" so much is due to the fact that I am certain if I had given the Kings of Leon record a good spin, I could have experienced the essence of the band without ever seeing them live: this band is not about the stage theatrics at all.

While some will argue that it should be "all about the music, man," I will beg to differ. If I'm going to fork out $25 to see a live show, I'm expecting to see something: while not every band will walk on the crowd inside a bubble or have dancing animals on stage like the Flaming Lips, I kept wishing things could've been more imaginitive. Simply hearing the lead vocalist shout, "We're Kings of Leon!" did not really light my fire.

As the show ended, I still had not been completely won over by these Kings of Leon. Perhaps, I was still upset I had missed Snowden. Lucky for me, I ran into a friend just after the show who informed me that the band was playing the after party at Mooch & Burn just down the street. Alas, my night would be complete!

To my surprise, not too many people made it the whole two blocks down the street to catch Snowden playing again, but I wasn't complaining. When we arrived at the second venue of the night, we were able to snag a booth near the stage and catch the opening band No River City (who's drummer just happened to share the same practice space as Snowden's drummer back in their home town of Atlanta, Georgia, back in the day). No River City was led by a Freddy-Mercury-lookalike lead singer who was accompanied by a keyboardist (who took on the role of the bassist), a traditionally trained jazz-style drummer and a guitarist. They sounded something like I imagine the Legend of Junior Sapp might 15 years from now, so needless to say, they were a fresh breath of alt-country air.

Snowden finally took the stage for the second time that night around midnight, and I was delighted to see they found their niche audience in this small crowd. (I still having trouble imagining this band with the dude bros for a crowd.) They began their set with "Black Keys,"and I was immediately struck by their musical presence.

Melancholy drones of melody somehow infiltrated their way through guitar parts that made me (and everyone in proximity of me) want to move. Perhaps it was the shot that lead guitarist/vocalist Jordan Jeffares spontaniously gave to me and a friend in the front row helped compell the dancing, too. (Or maybe that part just made me think they were all the more rad.)

In any case, they seemed to be natural performers with a commanding stage presence that Kings of Leon was utterly lacking. (Go figure... the cover at Mooch & Burn was only $5.) Bassist/keyboardist Corinne Lee movements embodied a likeness to Karen O, with a similiar femme fierceness with less dramatics. Every person who has seen this band live will not go without mentioning Lee.

And of course, I could not go without mentioning the band's catchiest tune, "Anti-Anti," which with an ironically disillusioned voice, speaks of our generations dissatifaction with the political state of being. I was surprised the band was able to nail this song live; I imagined it to be something more like a messy Clap Your Hands Say Yeah version of a live song, but this just flat out wasn't the case.

An overall evalution of a date with Snowden should based on a evalution of it's reminents: every good date keeps you wanting more. Snowden definately does that.

I more than recommend seeing this band live. I recommend you pick up their album, too. (Maybe even a sticker or something.) It seems there is so much more to come from this band, too.

I am contimplating a drive down to Houston to check out another show. Who wants to go?

Sophie Zine

Natalie Wright