Fever Marlene w/ The Redwalls @ Turner Hall
March 7, 2008
bands have little more in common than the same bill, the temptation to
compare shiny apples to citrus is difficult to resist. At Turner Hall
on Friday night, The Redwalls’ encyclopedic pastiche of ‘60s British
rock felt anachronistically juxtaposed with Milwaukee’s own
self-conscious duo, Fever Marlene. Though the two bands are separated
geographically by fewer than 70 miles, outside the studio their
respective sounds span an appreciable distance of nearly four decades.
Local openers The Saltshakers ended their raucous set with a cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” providing an apropos segue for The Redwalls, four Illinoisan Anglophiles who wear their influences—sartorial, tonsorial and musical—on their leather sleeves. While The Redwalls’ studio sound is indebted to The Strokes, their live performance warrants comparisons to Badfinger rather than The Beatles, the band to which they’ve been most compared.
The irreverent exuberance of the two opening acts quickly dissipated with headliners Fever Marlene, who flanked the stage under the glow of a looped, five-second digital projection of an animated rectangle, which rendered an effect not unlike sleeping in a hotel room with a window facing a neon sign that flashes “vacancy” all night long. With just two sticks and a handful of strings between them, the duo filled Turner Hall with moody, sentiment-tinged pop from their new album, White China, and highlights from 2007’s Brit-pop-influenced Civil War. Promoting White China, the band drolly encouraged audience members to dig into their wallets and visit the merch table, their means of transport imperiled by the need for a new transmission.
Requests for audience participation weren’t limited to appeals for financial support; a curvaceous conscript from the front row obligingly played tambourine for “When Daniel Goodings Made it Rain,” on the condition that she dance, ostensibly rounding out the inhibited two-man party onstage. If the waxing enthusiasm of fans aged 14 to 62 holds any indication of Fever Marlene’s potential for mass appeal, the band can count on enough album sales to keep the tour bus running for years to come.