Alchemize, Time Still Stands, Euphonic Funk Brothers, The Good Life, Cheap Sticker, GHS Auditorium, Greencastle, Indiana (April 3rd, 2004)

A year had passed since the first time I was exposed to the Greencastle, Indiana music scene. A year since all the name-calling and personal attacks that I had received for my reviews of the three bands that had played, and a year that was an eternity for these bands to refine their style, fall away, or do some combination of the both. Of the three bands that played at The Ides last year, What Next? had dropped its lead singer and became The Goodlife , 22-Left had broken up and reformed with various members to become Cheap Sticker, and The Madduxx had changed lineups and slightly modified their style to become the Euphonic Funk Brothers. Throughout the space of time between the two concerts, various bands had dotted the scene for a short period of time, and many had disappeared before really having anything of an impact on Greencastle music. Still, surviving a number of lineup changes, the former II Deep had morphed into Time Still Stands, and Alchemize had came out of the blue to fill out the lineup for this year.

I felt none of the fish out of water tones of last years concert, in fact, a number of people came up and asked me about the zine, the CD compilation, and the like – hell, I even got in for free. Getting into the auditorium relatively early, I was shocked by the ability of those individuals setting up the show to actually have Ides II start right when it was supposed to – which meant that a number of people missed a great part of Alchemize’s set. This being the first time that I had experienced Alchemize, I was immediately drawn in by the omnipresent, on-key bass lines of Garry, as well as the dynamic that the rest of the band exuded. Not permanently fixed to their positions, a key criticism of some of the harder-edged bands in Greencastle, as well as being (at the date of this show) strictly a cover band, Alchemize commanded a great deal of attention by the audience that grew by leaps and bounds during their set.

Covering Metallica and Black Label Society, a great deal of the audience was familiar with each and every track that Alchemize played. Admittedly, only being familiar with the Metallica covers (“For Whom The Bell Tolls”, “Creeping Death”), I was in completely uncharted waters for the rest of the set. In sheer musicianship, Alchemize was spot-on, rendering musically tracks that were indiscernible from the originals. However, where they were strong musically in the aforementioned covers, Jordan had not completely perfected his vocals on these tracks. This is not to say that Jordan biffed the lyrics, but rather, the guttural context of the Metallica originals was not completely realized in his rendering. “Creeping Death” couldn’t reach its apex due to a minor sound issue – the bass literally droned out Jordan’s lyrics. “Bleed For Me”, their first Black Label society cover, introduced a new element to the bands’ repertoire – a greater sense of vocal harmony, as well as a higher level of intensity. I would have to reserve total judgment of Alchemize until that time where they have originals, but they are an new and exciting happening in the surging Greencastle scene.

The next band to take the stage was Time Still Stands. I had seen the previous band that contained a few members of TSS, in II Deep. Aside from the more solid versions of their covers, there really wasn’t much different with the band from the last few times I had seen II Deep. Time Still Stands pulls out a cover of “Maybe Memories” by The Used, which ultimately sounds very disjointed, without much in the way of cohesion to tie this cover together. Blasting into “Cute Without the E”, the ever-present Taking Back Sunday cover which just has to be played at every single Greencastle show, Time Still Stands renders the instrumental portion of the song perfectly, but has a tremendously off performance of the lead vocals. Dong faithful renditions of both Blink 182’s “Stay Together For the Kids” as well as 12 Stones’ “Broken”, Time Still Stands blasted through their covers. Moving into unknown territory with their untitled original, Time Still Stands goes on a course that mixes together what is called “emo” with the pop-punk movement of the late nineties.

In this original, the problem that plagued Time Still Stands, the vocals do not really match with the music that is being played. While the song is fairly innocuous, the drummer both adds and detracts tremendously from the track – he detracts in the sense that the drumming is fairly formulaic, but really adds in the lively, punchy drum solo. The future of the band is still shaky, with two departures of members after this concert, but the band was still a standard of a band that was solid on two fronts: first off, they could render various covers solidly, secondly, they had the ambition to write their own music.

The Euphonic Funk Brothers were at the extreme edges of popular music, pushing an envelope that would be pushed all different ways during the night. Probably the most experimental band of the night, they start out their set sounding like fellow Hoosiers John Wilkes Booze Explosion or an amphetamine-fueled Doors with Jaco Pastorius on bass. Moving around their genres like no others, EFB can infuse their music with Stevie Ray Vaughan-like guitar licks at one moment and tried-and-true emo-rock sounds the moment after that. The Euphonic Funk Brothers are the 2004 version of Dutch Uncle – a versatile band that is able to shield itself from the criticism and the attacks of a jealous high school and unite all individuals in their inspirational style of music. The victims of some major issues with the PA system during a few songs, EFB lost their main vocals for a few minutes during the set. Luckily for the audience, EFB were compelling enough musically to still hold the audience’s attention with interesting arrangements and lush instrumentations.

What really started getting the crowd wholly in the show were the covers of the EFB. While EFB is not a cover band by any stretch of the imagination, their Lynyrd Skynyrd covers (Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird) were like caffeine to the previously static individuals in the crowd. Both of the covers were not carbon copies of the originals, but only different enough to have a slightly disserting effect of people who were intimately familiar with the originals. Balance was the key to the success that EFB had throughout the night – even with a semi-esoteric instrument (to High School-aged bands, at least) in their keyboards, each individual was able to pitch in at the correct times to make something that was more coherent than its constituent parts.

The Goodlife took the stage immediately after that, and while the crowd was no where near as divided as they were last year, there were still highly different sections of the auditorium. People crowded the center of the first few rows and were highly involved with the band, while the individuals on the right side were much more cynical and prone to shouting out random things during the stage banter (“Free Bird, anyone?”). Starting their set with another Brand New cover, “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad”, The Goodlife were more energetic than any previous show. Moving into Senses Fail’s “Dreaming A Reality”, the energy contained within each member of the band bubbles over, showing a rare early start with the vocals. “Hand Grenade”, a Movie Life track, shows The Goodlife’s experimental nature in the sense that the break-down is not necessarily what is expected from the track, but still fits extraordinarily well.

Their first original of the night, “Save Me”, is at the peak of its existence – when The Goodlife started playing the track live for the first few times, the song was a much different beast than what was played at the Ides this night. “Every Night’s Another Story” an Early November track which brought The Goodlife to yet another end – challenging Will’s ability on the drums with Travis Barker-like drum rolls. Moving onto “Kayla Times Kristy”, a second original that includes a bridge of the highest quality – increasing throughout the tenure. Moving through a few other covering during their set, including some from Brand New and Thousand Foot Krutch, The Goodlife continued their high-energy set to an adoring crowd. With each concert, The Goodlife show that a hard work ethic and a devotion to their music will be rewarded by a solid performance each time.

Finishing up the night was Cheap Sticker. While I hadn’t heard anything from the band, I was really looking forward to the act. Starting out their act, practically everyone crowded the stage, at times having a crowd 20 or 25 deep. Drawing even more of an enthralled crowd than The Goodlife, Cheap Sticker’s first few songs were drowned out by the actions of the masses, moshing, crowd-surfing, and the like. Pat’s virtuosic drumming overpowered all attempts at vocals for most of the set. Moving into a ska/punk cover of the chorus of “We’re Not Going To Take It”, Cheap Sticker caused their rapid fans to literally cause the floor of the auditorium to shake. Not really chatting to the audience much, but rather letting their music shine through, Cheap Sticker (with guest vocalist Randy) cut through “Left Coast Envy” by The Starting Line.

The second half of Cheap Sticker’s set saw some old covers being resurrected – the Ghostbusters theme (with Randy and his trumpet), for example. With every single voice joining in, the sped-up and tweaked out cover of R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of The World As We Know It” couldn’t hold a candle to the combined chaos created by the unveiling of the shovel-bass (literally, a fully functional bass created from a shovel) and Cheap Sticker’s covering of The Darkness’s only hit “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”. With two insanely talented individuals in the band (Ryan on Guitar and Pat on Drums), and their tendencies to go off on 10-minute solos, I was fully expecting a large chunk of their set to be these solos. However, deferring to a greater cohesive sound, both Ryan and Pat make their contributions all the more impressive by working so well with the other individuals in the band.

So, Ides II was a much greater success for the Greencastle scene than the inaugural show. While the first Ides show really allowed for the propagation of bands in Greencastle, I believe that this show will propagate a more solid and professional sound, something that was previously sorely lacking. Over 325 people attended this concert, and when one considers that Greencastle only has 9000 individuals, that is an amazing turnout. Hopefully individuals continue to support and be members in the Greencastle scene – I feel as if I have to say that because Greencastle has an abnormally strong fan base, and it would be folly for individuals to not tap that resource.

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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