Show Review: The Postmarks and Saturday Club at Hotel Utah, 9/29/09

by Gordon Elgart on September 30, 2009

Swirling lights kept the lead singer in the comfortable darkness.

Swirling lights kept the lead singer in the comfortable darkness.

It will be a bit surprising to regular readers of this site that last night was my first ever visit to Hotel Utah, but I finally made it over there to see The Postmarks and Brookville for an early Tuesday night show. When I arrived, a sign announced that Brookville’s lead singer had a family emergency, and instead, the other members of the band would be performing as Saturday Club.  Having never heard Brookville before, I found myself unable to be too disappointed, although I had been hoping to check them out as well.

When I walked in, a band was already on stage, and it was the sound-checking Saturday Club.  As they explained later, they were rehearsing this set in the van because Andy, their lead singer, asked them not to play any Brookville songs.  Instead, they played a couple of Saturday Club originals, a couple of songs from a project written for a different singer on the label, and a cover. These guys are excellent musicians clearly used to playing together, and the thrown together aspect of it was a bit endearing.  It was weird, though, because I did talk to some Brookville supporters who were rationalizing that seeing the rest of the band was just fine.  I’m sure Brookville will return to San Francisco for a makeup show at some point in the future.

The Postmarks were up next, and I was really curious how they would sound as a live band.  On their newest record, Memoirs at the End of the World, they use lots of strings and horns to create a certain lushness that I didn’t expect to be able to be duplicated on stage.  The singer’s voice rarely gets above a whisper, so what’s this going to be like in a club setting?

Instead of lush string arrangements, we got a driving rock sound with lots of analog synth and a powerful bass line.  The band sounded great, but the vocals held everything back. I don’t know if it’s the oddness of the split level main room of the Hotel Utah, first night of the tour jitters or if it’s her normal manner, but the lead singer, Tim, sang in a nervous style that was barely audible over the rest of the band. She also spent much of her time staring at the ground, like she isn’t comfortable being on stage.  She seemed to spend much of the show warming up, and it wasn’t until late in the set with “Don’t Know Till You Try” and “No One Said This Would Be Easy” that she seemed to open up and let it fly a little bit.

Because of this, the best moments were definitely when the music was the dominant feature in the song as opposed to the vocals.  “For Better or Worse” sounded particularly good because it’s simply a dance-oriented rocker.  Unfortunately for the live show, most of the songs feature the vocals, which just weren’t hitting.

I’m a big fan of The Postmarks’ albums, the band was being really friendly with their fans, and they have cool merchandise (as long as you don’t wear a men’s XL because they didn’t bother making any shirts this size). I really want to like them. I’d expect them to be somewhat better in a more energetic setting, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

The Postmarks setlist:

For Better or Worse
Lucky Charm
Ox4 (Ride cover)
Go Jetsetter
7-11 (Ramones cover)
Winter Spring Summer Fall
All You Ever Wanted
Don’t Know Till You Try
No One Said This Would Be Easy
Nine Million Rainy Days (Jesus and the Mary Chain cover)

A video of a live performance of “Lucky Charm”

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel Edelman September 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Their not selling XL shirts is like a cheese shop not selling cheddar. I guess it's not because they sold out of them earlier in the tour either.


homemadehitshow September 30, 2009 at 2:16 pm

They probably consider all their fines to be small nerdy types 🙂


Ron Myers September 30, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I enjoyed the shows but Andy was definitely missed. It was my first time at the Hotel Utah, as well, and I liked the intimate setting which allowed chatting with Tim and Jeff from the Postmarks and the tour manager, Ben Marts, an interesting and friendly fellow. So I enjoyed the overall feel of the evening.


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