WASHINGTON, August 11, 2012 – Sometimes a band’s presentation is absolutely the most important thing in its stage performance. If a band’s presentation is pulled off correctly, it give a live set a completely different atmosphere than if that band simply plays things straight. For a band like Pomegranates that plays such an aggressively esoteric style of synth tinged pop/rock, their unique presentation during their show at DC9 Thursday was a definitely vital and almost necessary ingredient that contributed significantly to how well their show was received.
When Pomegranates stepped on to the stage at DC9, they were dressed in their best country club whites with matching bleached hair. What followed was an energetic mix of pop/rock and synthesizers. With limited space to move on stage, the band buzzed away in strategic areas, with bass player Joey Cook most conspicuously acting like a hummingbird, flitting about in about in a three foot space in center stage.
The way Pomegranates puts on their live show almost feels like performance art, given their matching attire and constant but somewhat winking references to love. Under different circumstances—and if their songs weren’t inherently catchy—a stronger argument could be made for this interpretation. But there’s enough substance to their songs and live set to suggest they’re actually performing something they believe in rather than just creating empty stage effects to enhance a live show.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few narrative through lines in Pomegranates’ set, or even mission statement by the band itself. Pomegranates have released four full length albums at this point. At the very least they have kept a certain thematic relevance throughout all of them, and, in specific cases, it seems as if there’s a story concept in formation.
All of this materializes in their live set. How could it not? There are so many overt references they throw out that they begin to feel like a sort of a hippie synth pop version of the Nation of Ulysses. Instead of basing their songs around an underdeveloped grassroots revolution, they’re singing about holding out for the one true love of your life, or simply discovering the notion of love in general.
Yet much of this is really surface talk. The ideas in line behind Pomegranates are interesting in their own right, but only minimally inform their live show. The upbeat nature and talk of love gives an energetic push to their set, but it wouldn’t mean much if the material they trotted out was stale.
Fortunately, nothing about Pomegranates set is stale. The boys from Cincinnati keep everything up tempo and never allow for a dull moment to occur throughout their set. The continuous motion from the band never lets up. Whether it’s Isaac Karns moving from guitar to keyboard or Joey Cook shaking with his back to the audience, this band never stops. The karmic mix of two vocalists also adds to the enthusiasm the band generates.
Karns is the steady hand on vocals, serving as the consistent center focus for the band. Cook, on the other hand, sings in a much higher pitch, but gets the crowd ramped up even more, with vocals that sound like they’re constantly on the verge of cracking or breaking up.
Pomegranates have been around for a fair bit of time now, and they should probably garner a bit more praise from the public and from their fans. Their live show here proved absolutely infectious, loaded with energy and the fresh ideas and notions they put forth. For some, this might not be anything new or revelatory, it’s true. But Pomegranates’ music, concept, and story are certainly refreshing in a live presentation.
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