The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday May 16th

SAD Considerately Plays Low-Key Set

By Russ Lane

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Before local rock powerhouse Sorry About Dresden began its set, bassist Matt Tomich assured Go! management of their intentions.

"Don't worry, we'll keep it short," Tomich said as he walked through the sold-out crowd and hopped onto the stage.

Sorry About Dresden (SAD) was playing the night of Strunken White's final concert. During the now-deceased band's set, guitarist Nagendra Jayanty thanked Tomich on stage for his long-term support.

It all became clear -- SAD is the gentlemen's rock band. Rather than monopolize the evening, SAD's members cut on their amps, wowed the crowd and left just as quickly as they began so Strunken White could give its fans a proper farewell.

It was a testament to the four-piece band's honor, which is admirable, but it didn't create an earth-shattering set either.

Considering the band's commanding stage presence and an earlobe-throbbing sound, it's a bit of a letdown.

SAD has the classic Polvo-Superchunk "Chapel Hill sound," with a healthy dose of Frank Black thrown in for good measure -- they throw out disarming sheets of sound (think Husker Du, not Phil Spector) without sacrificing a measure of emotion or pop sensibility.

When you hear singer/guitarist Matt Oberst, you feel both the emotional weight of the statement and the physical force emanating from the PA, and the combination sends audiences into sensory-overload.

The group's recorded work -- a handful of compilation tracks and EPs, with one LP in store racks and another coming in October -- is quality but doesn't match up to the standards of its live show. And to stand in awe of this band's intensity is an untranslatable experience.

The Saturday night quickie was more in the vein of their recorded work than the usual "Oh My God" reaction the live shows provoke. Even Tomich's gravity-defying jumps weren't quite a high: the feeling was there, but the balls-out intensity was down a few notches.

The band still rocked and left the audience humming "I want to go back to sleep tonight" well past SAD's exit, but they never shifted into fifth gear.

And in the context of Strunken White's swan song and their own forthcoming tour, SAD's members seemed to know that this wasn't the time to fully rock out. For one night, the band was to support, not upstage, and while the full flavor of their live shows was lacking, the restraint felt fitting given the circumstances.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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