February 9, 2005 - Eugene, Oregon - W.O.W. Hall
by Erin Graham
A crowd of around two hundred mingled between bands at W.O.W. Hall, and at the appearance of headling act Luna, they rose to their feet, crowded around the stage and cheered enthusiastically, but the enthusiasm did not seem to be reciprocated. There were indeed good things about Luna's performance: the four piece band was tight, the players were competent and at ease, the lyrics were clever and sophisticated with all the right references. Guitarist and sometimes singer, Sean Eden, stood out with airy electric guitar parts, delightfully impressing with both his skill and timing. And these positive aspects did some to compensate for the weaker parts of the performance: the comfortable feel bordered on apathy, and singer Dean Wareham hit as many sour notes as he did sweet. Luna played like a band wishing their swan song was through, and fortunately for them, it nearly is.
Meanwhile, opening act Midnight Movies clearly has a great deal left to say. Quite distinct from Luna's lyric driven folky rock, MM was cool, atmospheric, driving rock n roll. Singer/drummer Gina Olivier's voice has a deceptively British feel, somewhere between Dido and PJ Harvey. Songs began in dramatic fashion, like a cross country march, a call to arms, rolling thunder. And you can do more than hear the thunder, you can watch it. Olivier's drum set is front and center on the stage and the drums are lowered so you can actually see her play. So they sound different, they look different, and even better...they play really well. Rounding out the three piece are the versatile (though they could be accused at times of "loitering" on stage) players Jason Hammons and Larry Schemel, who play guitars, bass, keyboards and call upon various sound effects from their Mac computer. If there was a weakness in the performance, it was that it was difficult at times to make out Olivier's vocals and they seemed more a compliment to the music than an autonomous force. While this may well be the intention, they would do well to let her sing...it's a great voice.
In the end, many who had come to say goodbye to an old friend, walked away having made a new one. All the best to Luna as they part, and a warm welcome to Midnight Movies!