Written by Todd Spoth
Feb 28, 2007 at 08:00 PM
ImageThis has been the second time this month that I’ve attended a show at the Meridian. I’ve always been kind of on the fence about the venue, especially since the up cropping of Warehouse Live which sprouted a few blocks away. After waiting in a slow-paced line, another line formed for ticket holders. I was told to join this shorter line since I was on the photo list…great. After my crotch was properly wanded and my camera double checked for contraband, I was stopped at the foot of the stairs and rudely told that there was no one on the photo list tonight and to wait.

After a while I headed upstairs to find that particular person simply sitting and talking with a security guard. It took a mentionable amount of hassle, but I made it in and after going through the trouble of double checking the photo passes for the night, I realized that there was indeed no barrier or concern for photos. I was however given an official photo pass, which consisted of a piece of masking tape with the words “photo pass” crudely scribbled in dry sharpie ink across the front, by a tour manager. Although unnecessary, I applaud her concern and utility. Because of the lack of a clear vantage point and the Meridian’s lack of proper lighting control, the photos are a scarcity tonight; however what I lack in photographic imagery, I will attempt to make up in descriptive imagery.

Aloha, another one of Polyvinyl’s gems took the stage first, and they stole the show in every sense. They didn’t need any theatrics, simply bright constant light, which would have been helpful if I was able to use my camera. The set’s 5 intricate songs were simply seamed together in instrumental harmony abandoning the typical break, to tune and meddle with the crowd. Their effective uses of uncommon instruments like xylophones were heavy during the set. Aloha brought out a second set of percussion and had members switching instruments throughout the set. It’s been a while since I have seen Aloha live, probably about 7 years, and they haven’t changed a bit. If you appreciate excellent jazz percussion fused with straight-forward indie music, check these guys out. Their album art and merch designs were definitely light years ahead of the other bands as well, but that’s neither here nor there.

After some significant audio difficulties, Me Without You started into their long set in front of what looked to be cut-outs of cloud, moon and sun shapes being them. This was the first time I had heard the band, live or otherwise, and it was just plain bad. The music is decent at best on its own, but the vocals, or lack thereof, simply ruin it for me. Most of the erratic vocals were delivered in a pseudo spoken word format. They too employed the use of odd instrumentation, such as the accordion and shakers, however they did not seem to mold well. Whoever gave this band of gypsies a record deal has made a terrible mistake.

After a good 40 minutes that seemed like hours, Sparta finally fell face-first into their no nonsense set of rock. Sparta was one of the two bands that formed from the ashes of the late, great At The Drive In, along with Mars Volta. The latter seemed to receive a lot more notoriety than Sparta over the years, however I have always enjoyed Sparta a lot more than Mars Volta. Its not that I dislike Omar’s vocals, heck one of my favorite shows was At The Drive In and The Murder City Devils at The Engine Room in 2000 I think it was, I just really dig Sparta. I was however a little disappointed to hear only one or two songs from their first album, Wiretap Scars. They have since released 2 additional albums, but in my opinion their first was definitely the best. Regardless of my take on their releases, they are great live. -Todd Spoth (www.toddspoth.com)