By Sarah Spencer
Last summer VH1 named Thriving Ivory as one of its "You Oughta Know"
bands and it turns out that Arkansans took that advice. On Saturday night, in the heart of Little Rock, the San Francisco-based quintet played to
an audience of delighted fans at the sold out show.
First opening act Company of Thieves, out of Chicago, is a group led by Genevieve
Schatz, a woman with an explosive Bjork-like, Regina Spector-esque singing style. She
is joined by Marc Walloch on guitar and Mike Ortiz on drums. There was
also a young man playing the bass guitar, named Bob Buckstaff, who is currently
on tour with them. This little known band is gaining recognition and a solid fan
base with their debut album Ordinary Riches. They've also performed on "Last Call
with Carson Daly" recently. This particular performance started off with "Oscar
Wilde," a song featured on MTV. They also tried out their version
of "1979" by the Smashing Pumpkins. Schatz's sweet though powerful, voice
couldn't be more different than Billie Corgan's, but they somehow made it work.
They closed their performance by inviting the audience to help them out and sing
along during "Under the Umbrella." This energetic and fresh band is absolutely a
band to watch for this year.
Next up was Seattle trio Barcelona, led by singer and keys player Brian Fennell with Chris Bristol on guitar and
background vocals and Rhett Stonelake on drums. This up-and-coming talented group of men have an album they are re-releasing next month
entitled Absolutes, as well as a song on the soundtrack of the new Disney
movie Escape to Witch Mountain, entitled "Stars," which, of course, they
performed. Obviously, they were proud of this noteworthy accomplishment and
invited the agreeable audience to the premier to watch the movie with them next
week. Like Company of Thieves, they also ended their performance by engaging
the audience in a sing-along during the love song "Come Back When You Can."
Thriving Ivory was introduced by a couple of local DJs, as if they needed an
introduction. The crowd proceeded to go bananas. They started
with "For Heaven's Sake," but then lead singer, Clayton Stroope kindly requested
a new microphone because he apparently "broke" the first one. After a few
minutes of microphone wrangling, they sang "Twilight," following with the
heart-quickening, beautifully melodic (and my personal favorite) "Secret Life."
The band, with its piano driven songs and exemplar way of escalating into their
climatic choruses, captivated the estimated crowd of 300, which included a couple
of teen girls who had made a poster for them. According to Stroope, nobody had ever
made them a poster before and he held it up briefly to the audience to show his
Toward the end, they sang their popular single, inspired by the events of
September 11, 2001, "Angels on the Moon," a sensitive and poetic song with a
soulful depth and compelling chorus. After
Angels," guitarist Drew Cribley,
bassist Bret Cohune and drummer Paul Niedermier left the stage while Stroope
and pianist Scott Jason stayed and performed "Our December," a song recorded
for the Make a Wish Foundation's compilation album An Alternative
Christmas. The rest of the band then returned for the encore.
Stroope then told
the audience that they wanted to meet "every single one of you." We're convinced Thriving
Ivory will soon be playing to ever-growing crowds at arenas, but for now, during
their first headlining show, if they are playing near you, take advantage of the
intimate settings and this impressive group.