By Sarah Spencer
Last Friday Days of the New performed at Juanita's in downtown
Little Rock to a large audience of relaxed but anxious music fans. Days of
the New first received commercial success with then-17-year-old Travis
Meeks leading the way for their post-grunge and self-titled debut album from
1997 with hit tracks such as "Touch, Peel and Stand," "Shelf in the Room" and
"The Down Town."
But, before I go into their performance that night, I would
like to first comment on the opening performing bands. The first band, Eden
Crow, began the late show. This local band's high-energy
enthusiasm was genuine, though possibly a little too theatrical. Lead
singer, founder and air guitarist, simply known as "The Cowboy," enjoyed
conversing with the crowd, but he also enjoyed leg lunges, squats and tossing
his curly long hair with exaggeration.
Along with "The Cowboy," Eden Crow
consists of "Diggit" Johnson on lead guitar, Jonathan Musgrove on rhythm guitar,
Nick Yielding on bass and Josh Yielding on drums.Their musical style is a
generic hard rock with a good electric guitar driven sound, weak drums and a
lead singer with mediocre vocals that went from a less-than-average singing
voice to a raspy loud yell with ease. Their set included a song (which The
Cowboy introduced by showing his beer belly to the crowd) entitled "Strip," which
was an ode to strippers, naturally. Before their last song of the evening (a
rendition of "Enter Sandman" by Metallica) they sang a song entitled "Train
Wreck" with lyrics such as,"I got a problem with you/I don't know why." My
sentiments exactly. But, I think I know why. They weren't very good.
The second group up was a band called Around the Six. Also a local metal band,
their sound was considerably more polished with a very talented drummer, Josh
Monroe, leading the instruments. Front man Stephen Wirges' unique singing style
and ability to hold long notes with a strong and relatively wide vocal range had
a raucous sound that would make some rock singers jealous. After about five songs
in, Wirges decided to sit down and rest while playing their most popular song
"Sanctify." Next, they played "Lateral Eights," which began slowly then
escalated into a faster tempo and a solid melody. They ended their set with "Vile," which is, as Wirges described it, "a jump up and down song."
If you like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus or Red Hot Chili Peppers, give this band a
listen. Around the Six also consists of Daniel Huey on guitar. There was also an
unknown hired bass guitarist playing for the band that night.
and certainly not least was the headliner acoustic rock band Days of the New
with original singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and guitarist
extraordinaire, Travis Meeks as the main attraction. The current line-up since
2007 is a trio including 31-year-old Meeks with Malcolm Gold on bass guitar and
Paul Culligan on percussion. The first 15 minutes were entirely
instrumental and had a world music feel. Meeks, a recovering drug addict,
is said to be a reclusive introvert who suffers from autism and a socially
debilitating disease called Asperger's Syndrome. He never once acknowledged the
audience, except for a brief smile to himself and a "thank you" at the end of
the night. All members had their eyes closed throughout virtually the entire
performance. Although it felt as if the audience were being shut out and
ignored, I didn't mind it. Meeks is a musical genius and master of the acoustic
guitar incorporating classical sounds into his songs and if he needs to close
his eyes to feel more comfortable, then so be it.
However, as the crowd lessened
considerably after they played their most popular songs, "Touch, Peel, and
Stand" and "Shelf in the Room," I began to wonder if it bothered the rest of the
audience. Maybe it was the late hour. The band didn't get up on stage till
nearly midnight. Either way, the decreased size of the room was surely
unnoticed by and unaffected the artists on stage.
I can honestly say, I've never
heard an acoustic guitarist that was his equal. Meeks has been quoted as
saying, "Each acoustic guitar has it's own sound; it seems…more natural to play
than electric." To emphasize that belief there were four different acoustic
guitars along with two different bass guitars that were set on stage and were
played. Meeks piercing eyes only opened long enough for us to see a flash of
bright blue in order for him to switch guitars or to briefly tune the
Set list was as follows:
"Orch of the
"Shelf in the Room"
"Touch, Peel and
"The Down Town"
"Touch of Anger"
For the last
song, a lengthy and impressive instrumental was added to the introduction and
the closing. Travis Meeks' Days of the New put on a very memorable and
talent-filled performance that I would recommend to any musically inclined fan.