Bell X1 @ Cafe Du Nord (3/26/2008)

I arrived to the show last night as the opening band was kicking off their set. This was the first time I've heard of the LA-based Submarines and most likely the last. That's not to say they were bad. Not at all. They were a decent 3-piece made-up of a white male drummer with an amazing afro, a male bassist/vocalist and a female guitarist/vocalist. The 3-some reminded me of an alternative band trying too hard to be poppy. Sounding very similar to the recent Apple iPod/iPhone/Air TV commercials. The female vocalist also played what sounded like a xylophone which again reminded me of the quirky Apple music ads.

After 45 minutes, which was about 20 minutes longer than it should have been for an opening band of their caliber, they finally decided to cede command of the stage and let those in the audience clamor for the band we were all really there to see... Bell X1.

Honestly, I didn't know too much about Bell X1 before tonight's show. I knew they were an Irish rock band that was gaining popularity here in the states largely due to their recent hit single that appeared on the TV show "Grey's Anatomy". But that was about it! Here's what Wikipedia has to say about them:

"Bell X1 are an Irish rock band from North County Kildare in Ireland. They have thus far released three critically-acclaimed albums in Ireland, and are rapidly gaining success in the United States, where their music has been used on popular television shows such as The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy. Their third album, Flock, which was previously only released in Ireland and later in the UK, has recently received a North American release in February 2008."

What I can tell you now after hearing them play last night, is that they sound like a combination of Snow Patrol, The Talking Heads/David Byrne, and just a touch of VH-1's favorite, James Blunt.

Minutes before 10pm, the band came on stage and kicked their set off with the song "Bad Skin Day". The song is one of the more 'Snow Patrol'-ish of their collection. (Snow Patrol is another Irish rock band if you're not familiar with the reference.) Take a look at the video below -- it might be a bit blurry, but the sound is decent.

Bad Skin Day:

A few songs later came Bell's current single here in the US, "Rocky Took a Lover":

Soon after came the 70's struttin' "Flame" which is one of the stronger Talking Heads influenced tracks:

"Reacharound" had a brief introduction about the drummer's first visit to the US back in 1994 as an irish student shacking up with a house full of other irish -- a rite of passage for most irish kids before going to university. Here's "Reacharound" (with more Talking Heads influence):

The entire set-list looked like this:

  • Bad Skin Day
  • My First Born for a Song
  • Alphabet Soup
  • Natalie
  • Next to You
  • Rocky Took a Lover
  • Eve, The Apple of My Eye
  • Trampoline
  • Tongue
  • White Water Song
  • Flame

All-in-all, a great show at a tiny venue for a band that will surely see more success in the near future. Be sure to check out their website to keep up with their tour dates and if you have the chance, definitely check them out!

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