Anyone with a case of the Mondays in Fountain Square last night had an easy fix for them waiting at The Hi-Fi. With El Ten Eleven playing and Sego kicking things off, The Hi-Fi was a great place to start the week off right.
Sego Takes the Stage
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a band I’d never heard of opening for a post-rock, instrumental duo, but I was pleasantly surprised by Sego’s performance. Their songs balanced punk elements with upbeat, synth-driven dance tunes and heavy, driving drum beats. I was simultaneously reminded of The Pixies, Beck, Peter Bjorn & John, and Arcade Fire, to name a few. As Sego continued to play I found it harder to put my finger on it, and at the risk of sounding cliche, Sego defies typical genre conventions and categorization.
Sego demonstrated their skill and sense of fun with songs like “20 Years Young”, in which Spencer Peterson (lead vocalist) drawls, “…he ran away from his mom and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…” The chorus of the song call back to this in an uplifting chorus, “…it’s the easiest part…” This small example highlights what Sego does so well, which I would attribute to cultivating and highlighting extreme contrast in their songs. It’s in the blend of jerky, distorted, off-tune guitar riffs, and sweeping, melodic synth pads, and it’s found time and time again in Peterson’s lyrics.
Although I wasn’t familiar with them before, by the end of their performance, I was still hungry for more. Sego has an incredible knack for crafting songs you want to get up and dance to, while at the same time puzzle out the message of Peterson’s lyrics. A band with enough to offer for the casual listener, but with a depth that rewards multiple listens (I’ve been listening to them the past two days now).
You can check out Sego on their website and give them a listen.
El Ten Eleven Close the Show
By the time El Ten Eleven took the stage, the relatively small room of the Hi-Fi was a little over half-full. Not a bad turnout for a Monday night, considering that that half of the room was crammed in as close to the stage as they could get.
When Kristian Dunn picked up his double-necked guitar/bass and started playing, the fact that everyone was trying to get a closer look at what he was doing didn’t seem so strange. As he played, Dunn would lay down a single line, stomp his foot on one of the many pedals he had laid on the stage, and continue to add increasingly complex melodies and harmonies.
All of this was complemented, of course, by drummer Tim Fogarty, who switches back and forth between acoustic and electronic drum sets. As a band who classify themselves as post-rock, El Ten Eleven balances minimalism in their instrumental compositions with dense harmonies, often building up from melodic riffs to big and driving, fuzz-filled riffs.
Shrugging off the Unexpected
The performance went on without a hitch until about halfway through the show when the electronics system failed. Although it was only for a minute or two, it happened during the build up of a song, which killed the energy in the room for a few moments. Being an experienced and charismatic showman, however, Dunn was able to shake it off with a smile and a joke before launching back into the song.
Speaking of showmanship, Dunn has it in spades. As he played he was constantly moving around, swinging his head from side to side, and kicking out his legs when he got especially excited. This was all interspersed with frequent trips to the pedalboard, as Dunn looped and built each song from the ground up. His energy was infectious, and the crowd couldn’t get enough.
To close the show, El Ten Eleven brought out Spencer Peterson to sing a few songs from their newest album, which features vocals sung by Emile Mosseri (currently on tour with his own band, The Dig). Vocals brought a different element to El Ten Eleven, who until recently have stuck with instrumentals.
It was a rare treat seeing both El Ten Eleven and Sego stopping in Indianapolis in between their Red Rock show in Colorado and Baltimore, Maryland. If they ever come through Indy again, make sure you don’t miss them. Even if it is on a Monday night.