North Elementary
  • Erik Anderson
  • They’re in there somewhere: North Elementary

North Elementary, Some Army
Kings, Raleigh
Friday, May 16, 2014

There weren’t many people at King’s in Raleigh Friday night for North Elementary‘s Honcho Poncho LP release show: the 20 or 30 people in attendance largely hugged the walls or hovered at the bar, while the headliner played an unlit stage in front of a projector screen. In local music—hell, in music at all—this happens: Sometimes people don’t come out. It’s been the source of uncounted “Where the hell was everyone?” Facebook posts or blog entries, and it can be a test of a band’s resolve. It’s in how musicians handle these situations that bands can really shine.

At this show, the bands shone: North Elementary coupled their bright-and-sunny fuzz-rock, tightened over the course of five LPs, with video projections via Matt Hedt. Hedt felt like a sixth member at points, as his video work tended to match the songs perfectly—no surprise, as he’s worked with the band a good bit over the past eight years. “Undressed and a Place to Go” earned mirrored footage of African wildlife, while for the jubilant “Way Out (Happy Here),” Hedt played a string of funny cat videos. The band’s performance, too, hinged on goofy exuberance, though the infectious, down-tuned riff to “Eye Glass Goggles” brought welcome menace.

Aside from awkward Steve Winwood jokes, though, King’s was distractingly silent between songs. To contrast, the set close was a welcome, cutting wall of feedback. Considering the band has the pedals and amps to coax these sounds from their guitars, it seems the only thing missing to this set was feedback or at least some kind of noise in those gaps. It was only then that the room felt empty. Otherwise, it was full of confident bliss-rock and excellently juxtaposed videos.

Opener Some Army has been largely absent from local music since March 2013, when the band successfully funded a still-unfinished record via a Kickstarter campaign: there have been sporadic appearances since then, but not many.

I loved Some Army’s 2012 EP; it was one of the best things I heard that year, so I had high hopes and high expectations for any new album tracks. The first song mixed trip-hop characteristics with a chorus in Some Army’s familiar rural space-rock mode, while one later in the set concluded in a surprising, driving Krautrock section. New gear—a sound module used to emulate mellotrons and something called a Drone Commander—added to Some Army’s already rich textures.

EP tracks like “We’ve been Lucky” and “Servant Tires” came across fresh and poignant, as if the band was relieved and excited to finally be playing again. One new song, tentatively called “Infinite Mirror,” revealed the sheer potential of this band. A respectable polyrhythmic drum line, reminiscent of Afro-pop, backed Some Army’s familiar downtrodden feel. It was a new blend of styles that rarely intersect, all indicative of an excellent album coming out. .. sometime?