Last Night at 35 Conferette: Nite Jewel Hits, But Mostly Misses, Before A Small Hailey's Crowd
11:40 p.m., Hailey's Club
Nite Jewel's set at 35 Conferette on Sunday night proved to be as interesting, frail and filigreed a thing as the band's name implies.
But following Denver-based Pictureplane's rousing, bass-thumping set wouldn't have been an envious position for many acts. What with Travis Egedy on his knees, emoting into the microphone, surrounded onstage by a handful of folks dancing and occasionally making out, Egedy clearly grabbed the audience's attention and never let go.
After this set, though, the energy in room built up by Pictureplane had visibly drained. By the time Los Angeles' Nite Jewel took to the stage just before midnight on day four of 35C, a significant chunk of the crowd had left the room.
After a slow opener, the band picked up some momentum with the catchy "We Want Our Things." By the second time the band introduced another "brand new song," the crowd in the main room shrunk to about half of the size as for Pictureplane or for openers Peoplodian.
Initially started as the bedroom dance project of Ramona Gonzalez, she's now backed onstage by a full band, including multi-instrumentalist Cole M. Greif-Neill (a frequent collaborator and former guitarist of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti). And, clearly, the band was as road-weary as the audience.
"Thanks for waiting," Gonzalez said, approaching the mic before the first song. "We just drove 11 hours from Albuquerque."
And, like so many other bedroom artists who add new members for touring purposes, Nite Jewel stuck very closely to the new "band-friendly" material. By the end of the night, Nite Jewel only played one song, "Chimera," from debut album Good Evening. After introducing another new one, Gonzalez explained, "We're trying to figure out how you like them."
Though the crowd thinned out some, a decent turnout stood mostly still watching the performance. Read: There was not that much dancing going on. Vocally, though, Gonzalez seemed on-point most of the night, with a few off notes here and there on New Mexican Summer 12-inch single "It Goes Through Your Head." But, overall, she possesses an impressive range.
The band, meanwhile, seemed tight some moments, and at other times songs way off. The beats seemed especially out of sync on "Chimera" and "We Want Our Things," and another new track delivered mid-set. One of the main challenges with using live drumming to deliver digital beats is that if the drummer's off in the slightest it's immediately noticeable to the ear. As a friend noted, it takes a drummer with Wes Darrin-like (of Darktown Strutters, formerly of Faux Fox) precision to pull it off.
After the band's set, Cole M. Greif-Neill, a three-year veteran of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, said it was "good to be back in Denton" and "at Hailey's." But he lamented missing Big Boi.