Floater – WoW Hall, July 22, 2011
Laurel Hayles, EDN
One thing you can honestly say about attending a Floater show – it is never dull! And don’t make the mistake of equating “acoustic” with “quiet” or “dull.” I don’t think it would be possible for these guys to be any of that. As Floater’s soundman, Dan, says, “Even their acoustic shows become rock shows!” As well, the fans attending exude their own raw, uncontained energy as they bounce, dance, and sing along with every song. This Eugene-born band has a dedicated fanbase here that transcends the boundaries of age and style: babies were held in the arms of the communal family alongside older folks, who followed their own unique groove to the music. Every time I see this band it is fresh and new!
Of course, having the chance to catch them for a live video interview after the show was unforgettable. (We’ll post it soon) While the entire interview was way too much fun , I especially enjoyed hearing Rob’s story about how they decided on the name “Floater” for the band, and his description of some of the weirdest things fans have tossed onto the stage during a live performance. They agreed that the 14-page anonymous essay of one fan’s interpretations of the meanings of certain song lyrics topped their list as the strangest.
They played two sets (the last being a very extended set, ending well after midnight). For the first set, Rob made his entrance from the green room with bass guitar in hand, strumming his way through the crowd as they gawked and pointed and cheered. Peter and Dave wove their own separate paths through the audience to where they all met on the stage. It was a singular beginning to a unique show.
Rob’s vocals when he sings a low melody line are so haunting that, when the guitars break out into hard rock riffs it almost catches you by surprise… almost! I’ve also always admired their time signature and tempo changes through the songs, which were superbly executed. They have such an amazing rapport with the audience – you have seen them live, either acoustic or electric.
Their vocal harmonies (all three of them sing on many of the songs) are perfectly performed, and Dave’s dancing melody lines on lead guitar seem more inspired every time I see them play.
Of special note for me were the covers they did. Each was chosen either because it worked especially well in an acoustic venue, or because they have so much fun sharing them with their audience. Rob’s drumstick-tapping opening (joining with Dave on drums) for their cover of The Who’s “Magic Bus” was perfect, and it quickly became Floater’s own funk version: reggae-popping, the audience bopping along with the guys on stage. They segued from there to their original “Hollywood”.
Setlist – First Set: Come See Everything, On The Table, Golden Age, Time Marches, Diamond, Magic Bus (cover), Hollywood, Strychnine, Exiled.
Peter opened the second set doing a solo mini-set on acoustic guitar. An accomplished vocalist and guitarist in his own right, you probably want to look for some solo album work by him – it would be well worth your time.
An acoustic set venue gives them a chance to put a new spin on some old favorites – Rob’s acoustic guitar work sounded almost like a Spanish guitar on many of the pieces. The second set included their cover of the Police’s “Walking On The Moon”, segueing into yet another original, “Bound For Glory.” And of course they did Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” which is obviously an audience favorite as well as their own – Rob’s intro included mention of just how much fun they have playing it, with his hope that the audience would love it as much. I don’t want to try to judge that competition – we’ll call it a draw, I think it was a mutual party! Everyone was on the floor dancing and singing for that one.
I’ve mentioned in previous reviews how much I enjoy how they build layers. While these are more distinct in a non-acoustic live performance, the layers are definitely still there when they play this type of venue. Their energy is contained and concentrated. I think Rob puts it best when he calls it “focused.”
I thought for sure they were going to close the second set with “Let It Go” and I suspect they considered that as well based on the set list copies they gave me, but you can’t close the party down in full swing (regardless of the time) – right? They went on to play two additional songs, and finally brought the show to a climactic close.
Setlist – Second Set: Weary Head, Endless I, Accepted, Walking On The Moon (cover), Bound For Glory, Personal Jesus (cover), Black Sheep, Alone, Let It Go, Seconds, Weightless.
They were gracious and amusing and astounding. Again, an awesome performance by Eugene’s own Floater – find their webpage here for additional info on bio, discography, tour dates, and more: http://www.floater.com. And remember to mark your calendars for their next Eugene appearance!