Delicate Steve Prove Music Can Be Good
Icy Demons then took over. The group's bassist and mouthpiece Griffin puts on a show that’s not wholly different from Reggie Watts, and has a little more in common with Flight of the Conchords’ Jermaine Clement than he might readily admit.
The venue was starting to feel packed, with fewer than 100 people in attendance. Smatterings of exploratory Third-of-July fireworks popped overhead. Then the lights were killed, and Delicate Steve took off.
Steve Marion wrenched his frame around for an hour, taut from his flashy mane to the toes on his Digitech Whammy Pedal. His pedigree as the group’s songwriter was less evident last night than his voracity as a frontman and capability as bandleader.
Delicate Steve is exceptionally cogent. The show hit some of the same gestalt swells as their studio tracks, with each of the individual contributions nestled well.
One such moment came after their new album’s concluding number, “Luna.” As the final notes of the song rang out electrically, Marion set his butt down at his pedalboard, leaning back to face his band and exclaim: “Thank you! Really, thank you, guys.”
“Oh,” he stammered, summoning a little composure to stand at the mic once more. “Thank you,” speaking to the audience this time.
The studio albums are built with the consistent direction that suggests an individual author, part of what made the group’s mock-bio via Chuck Klosterman comically believable. But the live performance is a resounding team effort, including guitarist Rob Scheuerman’s mumbly stabs at vocals.
Their music is exciting enough to have had all kinds of adjectives thrown at it, but what went down onstage at the Echo mostly had to do with basic rock roots—manpower, amplification, plastic cups.
The band, it turns out, is pulling into late-Thin-Lizzy territory. Lush consistency on studio productions, including the soon to be released “Positive Force.” Add to that a titanium-solid, face-blasting live presence. On wax, Marion’s guitar leads sound tastefully placed and clever. At the Echo, they were ripped out of his strings, met with nothing short of awe.
Attempting to carbon copy the albums’ dense multitasked instrumentation onstage would have been futile in all likelihood. But some elements of studio trickery carried over to the show. Seeing Marion fiddle with his Stratocaster input for an encore performance of “Source ((Connection))” was an exceptionally goofy treat.
Their new release is titled “Positive Force.” The perfectly constructive nature of Delicate Steve’s music is the Positive part—it’s easy to take the fact this music’s being made as a good sign. The blood pumping onstage Tuesday night was about the Force.
A lightly evolved creative entity has been birthed through this kind of effort, with the tunes from “Wondervisions” at its core and strength field-tested against increasingly vast audiences. This progression is evidenced on the newest release. Marion’s creative entity sounds addled by outside concerns—the other musicians at his disposal, for instance. The stunning moments hit you over the head a little less often than on their stellar debut, but granular nuggets of the magic are still there.
“Positive Force” will be released July 10, but it's already up in its entirety on NPR’s website.