Chorus Looper Bow

FURIA w/ Black Bull Nova, “Hand-Me-Down Silicone”: 7/24/2014 @ The Mill (Iowa City, IA)

I hadn’t been to The Mill in a while, and it was nice to find myself back there again. The show was billed as having two bands, but a third band also performed (more on that later).

The first group to play was Black Bull Nova. Some of the early songs in the set used chorus effects in the guitar and bass, giving them an ’80s vibe. The singer also uses a little vibrato in his vocals, so these things combined made me think of The Smiths at first. Some of the songs towards the end featured B-minor chords, for some reason, and had more of a Latin rhythm. One of the songs was basically a slower version of “Lay Lady Lay”. The group is capable of good songwriting and creating nice soundscapes, but only about half of the songs really caught my attention (I thought the first half of the set was stronger than the second). Overall, I’d say they’re a decent band and I’d be excited to hear more of their stuff in the future.

The Mill had a big crowd on Thursday, and I suspect it had a lot to do with a trio that played second (they jokingly used the name “Hand-Me-Down Silicone” for their set). I don’t know if this was a new band, or just some past IC residents back in town and performing for old time’s sake. Their set started with just an electric cellist using a looper pedal. A second member (a guitarist) came to the stage for the next looping experiment, but the rhythm seemed to be off (this isn’t the first time I’ve heard things go awry with looper pedal performances). Then they added a third member and the rest of the set turned more folkie. There were a few mistakes here and there (again, I think this is either a new group or some people who were back in town and didn’t get a lot of time to rehearse, so some issues were to be expected), but there were some enjoyable moments.

The headliner was Furia, a band from Northfield, MN (40 miles South of the Twin Cities). I found this group to be really enjoyable. Most songs featured an acoustic guitar, a mandolin (bowed or picked) and a Hammond organ…believe it or not, it works! The mandolin player would sometimes switch to another acoustic guitar or a banjo. In addition to the creative instrumentation, the arrangements were well thought out and kept your attention. The singer / guitarist has a pleasant alto voice that also benefits the group. I stayed for seven songs of theirs before heading out (it was getting late), but I really would’ve liked to have stayed for their whole set. I highly recommend checking out Furia if they come back this way.

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