Live Review: Saintseneca and Des Ark at the Casbah, February 5, 2016

Photo credit: Chris Maroulakos

Columbus, Ohio band Saintseneca played the Casbah last Friday. And though they made a valiant effort, it is a sad day when your opener puts on a better show than you.

Perhaps Saintseneca were tired. Perhaps they were bored. Whatever the reason, lead singer Zac Little did little to impress the crowd. Even without the aid of Little’s microphone, the attendees were louder than him at some points.

Perhaps it was the songs themselves. Saintseneca’s new album, Such Things (produced only a year after their last album, Dark Arc) shares similarities in tone and cadence with its predecessor. But Dark Arc had poetry to be found within its lyrics, whereas Such Things never really finds its way through the dark. Little’s lyrics are like a melancholy teenager in love with his self-reflection.

Perhaps it was the crowd. Perhaps the decent-sized audience did not know what it was signing up for. At one point, Little had to scold someone in the crowd for yelling out about a potato. He quickly, awkwardly recanted what he had said, insisting that he’s all about having fun. But it was Friday night, and most people in the audience were not in the mood for bedtime chill-down music.

Contrary to Saintseneca’s sleepy-time-tea remedy, opening act Des Ark gave a spirited performance that sounded like Björk fronting Explosions in the Sky. Rolling, epic guitar riffs coupled with an incredible range. For their finale, Des Ark led the crowd into the Casbah’s Atari Lounge and finished with an acoustic song with guitarist/lead singer Aimée Argote on banjo.

Perhaps Des Ark knew how to please the crowd better than Saintseneca. Between songs, Argote joked that having long hair while playing the guitar was akin to constantly having a pube in her mouth. She and the guitarist looked like they were having fun, too. Or perhaps it was just a weird Friday night where everyone was tired and needed help staying awake. Even Des Ark, after a while, sounded repetitive and a great lull fell over the audience.

Saintseneca are a good band, and their albums can be a delight to listen to. But that Friday night, neither the crowd nor the band was feeling each other. An important ability of a great band is to woo an audience into believing in it.

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