A storm was gathering on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, while two friends came together with the power of perseverance and the gift to create beauty from chaos. Ours vocalist Jimmy Gnecco and front man James Hall of the Futura Bold each delivered inspired sets on their own, but seeing them perform together was an unexpected treat.
A crowd of dedicated Atlanta fans pressed forward to the stage as Ours made a notable entrance to Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Really Care About Us.”
Like a tribe of voodoo spirits, the band appeared ready to be invoked by the crowd. Obligingly, they launched in to “Miseryhead,” a dark, swinging track from the debut album, Distorted Lullabies.
While Gnecco’s voice has been compared to many singers, he is truly a unique front man. Dramatic yet controlled, he has a disciplined vocal command and range reminiscent of Freddy Mercury or Thom Yorke from the OK Computer era. James Hall also praised Gnecco’s “golden voice” during one of the evening’s duets.
Ours joined Peter Murphy on eight tour dates out west this summer, and played the last of their remaining solo shows in Atlanta last night. Gnecco sang while the band–drummer Micky Fox, Chris Goodlof on bass, guitarist Static, April Bower on keyboards–seemed determined to blow up the tour’s final performance, and kept up a breathtaking pace for the entire two-hour set.
They debuted new songs from a forthcoming album, including “Sing” and “Devil”–a soaring ballad with Gnecco’s plaintive vocals, heart-wrenching guitars, and melody from Bower’s keys. The venue was booming and it’s hard to believe Gnecco did not strain his voice having to compete with the wall of sound.
The evening also documented a journey between friends. Ours and the Futura Bold appearing at a show together seemed to be a match of serendipity, but the crowd found out that the pairing was no accident. The two singers shared a special connection prior to meeting over a decade ago. Gnecco was strongly encouraged to check out the music of James Hall and became an instant devotee. For many fans, witnessing their first James Hall show is a memorable experience, and it was no different for a seasoned musician. After missing a final opportunity to visit his friend Jeff Buckley, Gnecco wistfully described that he just couldn’t let the opportunity to meet James Hall pass him by. The two met at a show in Athens and soon began a working relationship that led to many collaborations.
James Hall took the stage to perform several songs with Ours–not to mention a slew of covers. He proudly performed AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” as guitars and drums united behind him loud enough to wake the residents of nearby Oakland Cemetery. As the clock approached midnight, Hall also delivered Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” and Gnecco crooned a delicate version of “Wicked Game” by Chris Issak. The end of the show felt almost like an intimate jam session between friends, and audience members staying late into the night were rewarded with the evening’s highlight: Hall and Gnecco launched into brilliant duets of Ours hits, “Sometimes” and “Fallen Souls.” On the latter track, the collective spirit of all musicians on stage was so united that the venue felt as if it were literally lifted and we were flying.
Our final send off into the misty Southern night commenced as the band invoked the spirit of another unforgettable vocalist with a rendition of “Riders On the Storm,” and then closed with The Cult’s,”She Sells Sanctuary.”
After the show, I asked Gnecco what the next album will bring. He said that he hopes to create music that will make listeners truly feel something. He said: “I’m not looking to follow trends, and even if you would try–you’re always too late.” While he admits that striking out to follow one’s own creative muse is a lonely path, he looks forward to letting the next record develop naturally with contributions from others. The process sounds similar to his experience working with the many talented musicians and guests on the band’s critically acclaimed third album, Mercy. And if last night’s joyous collaboration was any indication of what’s ahead–we can’t wait for more.
Download the band’s new single, “Devil,” at www.pledgemusic.com/projects/ours to help the band raise funds for their next full album recording. It’s a soaring promise of the beautiful music yet to come.
The Futura Bold started the night off on a high note with a crowd favorite from James Hall’s previous band, Pleasure Club. After receiving critical acclaim and amassing a dedicated fan base, Pleasure Club disbanded and James began working with guitarist Chris Piskun and bassist Bruce Butkovich on the project that would become the Futura Bold. This evening, we were treated to several high-energy tracks from the Futura Bold’s impressive self-titled debut, as well as two beautifully crafted new songs: “A Sunny Place for Shady People” and “We Shoot Gold.” The band’s unique brand of rock draws elements from soul and funk, and the lyrics betray secrets from society’s underbelly.
The opening and headlining acts share a few more connections–Jimmy Gnecco contributed backing vocals to the Futura Bold’s self-titled album in 2010, and both James Hall and former Pleasure Club drummer, Michael Jerome Moore, joined Ours in the studio to record the Mercy album in 2006.
Though both Ours and the Futura Bold should be massively well-known to music fans around the world, it seems that the rare creative talent that makes them unique would be lost if their music was the kind that appealed to the masses. Perhaps Oscar Wilde was right when he said, “Everything popular is wrong.”
Full Gallery after the jump…
Category: Picture Book