Downbeat Azure Ray Matched By Refreshing Energy of Opener

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Azure Ray have always been known for their bittersweet melancholia. Their Sunday performance at the Independent was no exception. Six years after their last album Hold on Love, the female duo have made a highly anticipated comeback. One would hope that six years had sufficed for the band to mature out of its sorrowful musicality. Yet, the bittersweet melancholia, along with the plaintive cello and the doleful melodies, have remained. The night was well on its way when Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink appeared on stage. The crowd had been waiting for a while and grew undisciplined and impatient. People had already had two or three beers and shouted drunken cheers that seemed inapposite to the atmosphere that Azure Ray was about to create.

The band's unwavering vocal performance was of exceptional quality. Their immaculate harmonization testified not only to their artistry, but also to their professionalism. Their delicate voices murmured indistinguishable words with such radiance and silkiness that it was easy to forget about the despair that emanated from their lyrics. In spite of their sporadic monotony, the pair showed off their musical expertise through a clever mix, however too down tempo, of familiar and novel tunes.

Despite their flawless harmonies, the two artists disappointed. Timid and unsure, they seemed to be novices in the art of performance. And as they hastily hid themselves and their somewhat incongruous baby-doll outfits behind their oversized guitars, the duo surprisingly chose not to engage in heartfelt greetings, which were well-deserved after such a long absence. Sadly, they immediately dove into their musical set and seemed to disregard the fact that the audience was excited to finally cross paths again. While harmonious and poetic throughout, the duo's concert was filled with too much of the same autumnal sentimentality that tickled our deepest emotions a tad too much. Their live performance was more upbeat than their albums. Yet, their lack of enthusiasm and of jollity sure didn't cast away the gloom that reigned over the San Franciscan sky.

If Azure Ray failed to pierce Sunday's cloudy horizons, they chose an opener that incontestably succeeded. Heavily contrasting with Azure Ray's sluggish dream pop, Tim Fite arranged a carnivalesque potpourri of comedic sketches and musical genres, demonstrating a profound excitement to perform.

That night, he made people howl with laughter as he sang "Rambo Bad"; he made them squirm as he narrated the story of a little pink cockroach making its way into our bedrooms (and into our ears). While his talent is undeniable, Fite does not take himself seriously, which is a refreshing kind of modesty that has become scarce in the world of show business.

The crowd was especially impressed when Fite, goofy at first glance, engaged in persuasive hip-hop acts during which he made witty remarks about life's innumerable contradictions and injustices. Others might have found his lyrics to be too simplistic or vulgar. But he got his message across; the audience scornfully agreed, "Consumerism is the shit." Sketchy yet charming animated films collided with the music to transformed Fite's show into a festival.

Through his flippant humor and his uncanny musical mishmash, Tim Fite emerged as an avant-garde artist. His performance might not have been as flawless as Azure Ray's. But the female duo showed just more of the same sentimentality. And their vocal perfection wasn't enough to shade their opener's originality and onstage vivacity.

Raise your class to consumerism with Charlene at [email protected]

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