The crowd that gathered at Der Rathskeller Friday felt more like a large group of friends than anything else. Before the anticipated performances even started, people mingled and fraternized like it was simply a social gathering.
Experimental rock-pop band Palm and their co-performers, The Spirit of the Beehive, each delivered hypnotic, exciting performances to this intimate audience, both subverting the concept of the genre in their own way.
The Spirit of the Beehive offers mellow, haunting instrumentals riddled with reverb. Upon listening, it’s hard to tell where they’re going to go. Their vocal melodies take a backdrop to their guitars and allowed for the audience to get lost in the echoes of their guitars.
Indie concerts provide a certain charm that’s hard to come by. The intimacy of The Spirit of the Beehive’s and Palm’s performances demanded the attention from concertgoers — so much, in fact, that it was quite rare to find anyone in the crowd on their phones, a trend often found at concerts nowadays.
“By the way, we need a place to stay tonight. If you have any friends …” could be heard from the lead singer of The Spirit of the Beehive, before trailing off and beginning one of their final songs. Lines like this are certainly exemplary of the intimate charm this concert presented to its audience.
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Headliner Palm offered a contrast to The Spirit of the Beehive’s drifting, aimless riffs with a performance of sharp, splitting chords that often feel so precisely calculated, they seem almost robotic in nature.
Palm enlisted a spectrum of unique sounds in their performance, ranging from digital claps to steel drums. These sounds created a host of different atmospheres throughout their performance. At times their songs took tropical shifts, and at others, they were reminiscent of The Beatles at their most experimental.
Had someone stumbled into that concert with no prior knowledge, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if they were told Palm’s music was being improvised. Their songs abandon all existing rules by which most music exists — song structure no longer adheres to traditional formats, melodies no longer supersede other musical aspects and their songs often feature vocal interjections that seem like a conversation between the singer and the guitarist in an indecipherable language.
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Despite this, Palm’s performances are not improvisational. For each reason Palm abandons the concept of formulaic music, they instead opt for methodical precision in their songwriting that, in spite of its weirdness, simply works. By all accounts of what most people expect from a song, Palm’s music shouldn’t work, but it does.
Palm’s performance personified “controlled chaos,” by showing their audience that their hard-hitting, concise arpeggios crawling out from a lo-fi backdrop can make for some of the most oddly pleasant concert experiences. New riffs and tone changes snuck up and appeared out of nowhere, so much that people might question whether they were listening to the same song.
In their controlled chaos, Palm occasionally seemed to have let entropy take over, but organization, without fail, sifts its way through the chaos. Their performance was as if a skipping record had to fight its way through to the next part of the song — but in a good way, I swear.
Overall, Palm and The Spirit of the Beehive both presented weird, genre-bending performances that were genuinely enjoyable in the strangest of ways.