Mint Records Ridiculously Early X-Mas Party @ The Biltmore -- 12/04/09

Last night was Mint Records annual Ridiculously Early X-Mas Party and my second year going. I think I liked the overall lineup a little better last year, but it was definitely a better venue this time. And, I managed to be one of the first 75 people in, so got a free gift! $20 gift certificates for Black Dog Video (any relation to Red Cat Records?). Though they had some other cool gifts, like $50 for Zulu Records, gift packs, giant pocky sticks and more. And best of all, free pocky sticks!
Like other years, they had a whole host of bands playing, and they somehow fit in eight bands in their 7-or-so-hour window. They all got about 30-40 minutes and the show, surprisingly, ran more or less on time! I'll try to only say a few lines about each set, so as not to go on forever, so here we go!

Aunts & Uncles: As a band, I really liked them... up until the lead singer started in. The music was really nice and almost symphonic -- they included a cello & violin, among others -- but the lead singer was really nasal-y, and a little whiny. Though, as it went on he either got better, or I just got used to it... but it was still quite the contrast.

Kathryn Calder: She was one of the two main acts I wanted to see, being a fan of Immaculate Machine (and New Pornos, of course). It was her first show with the backing band she had collected, and her first show playing guitar as well as keyboard, but it didn't show at all. It was a pretty good set, and got me excited for whatever solo material she plans to release.

Fanshaw: Mint's newest acquisition put on a pretty darn good set. With an almost jazzy or lounge feel to them, they kind of reminded me of a more minimalistic Jane Vain & The Dark Matter. I really dug them, and as I understand there is an album out in February with a CD release party at the Railway on Feb 4th. I think I might just have to check that out.

Kellarissa: Comprised solely (I think) of Larissa Loyva, formerly of The Choir Practice and p:ano. The set seemed a little shorter than the rest, and almost seemed to end abruptly, but she was pretty good. It also seemed really... subtle. Like, no one realized when she started, and there seemed to be more chatter during her set than all others. But with haunting vocals and looping -- which I am always intrigued by -- and I wouldn't mind hearing/seeing more, but it's nothing that I am going to rush out and get.

Hot Panda: I have seem them a few times before, even at last years Mint party, and while they're certainly not bad, I've just never been able to get into them all that much. They just don't do anything for me. That being said, they do have a great energy on stage and they still do put on an enjoyable live show.

Vancougar: I feel like I could copy & paste what I said about Hot Panda here, and it would be just as apt. I do like their song Obvious, but some of the stuff is a little.... same-y. But, much like hot Panda, they too put on a pretty damn good live show, and while I don't think I would go to a show just to see them, I have enjoyed seeing them the last couple years for the Mint X-Mas party.

Carolyn Mark: The second of the two acts I wanted to see. I've liked Mark for a while, but for whatever reason have never really picked anything of hers up; usually just hearing her on CBCR3. Her set, however, changed my mind for sure. Her voice is quite amazing, up there with Neko Case (which is appropriate, since the two of them put out an album under The Corn Sisters). The highlight of the set was definitely when all the members (save drummer, of course) put their instruments behind their head to play... even they keyboardist.

The Pack A.D.: Capped off the night and flat out admitted that since they were the last ones, they had the longest time to drink. And were, to put it generously, a little tipsy. Though, of all the bands to play, they would probably be the least conspicuous when drunk. Not to mean that as an insult, but they already have a pretty loose and raw style anyway. When I saw them earlier in the year opening for Pink Mountaintops, I said "boy, do they know how to put on a fucking rock show", and that was the same for tonight. They rocked out pretty damn hard, and had some hilarious banter between songs... mostly revolving around and due to alcohol.

Even though eight bands in one night did seem to drag on a couple times, it was still a great night of music and I can't wait for next years party. And it was pretty cool to meet some other R3 listeners, or people I only knew via the interwebs, at the show!