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Watching Bats
There are about 10.000 species of bats in the world, with new species discovered regularly. For contrast, the order of Primates contains about 380 species. This includes our close relatives such as Bonobos and our more-distant ones such as the Lemurs. Bats are elusive creatures, often only coming out in the night.
A few weeks ago I leaned there would be an excellent opportunity to watch bats in the wild. I asked around but none of my friends particularly wanted to come so last night I set off on my own.

In reality of course, I didn't set out to watch bats. I went to see a goth concert. I will not strain the bat/goth analogy any further. A year ago I happened on Xandria and since then I was sold to the music. I hunted down their albums and was longing for a chance to see them live, which finally happened yesterday. I was not disappointed.

The evening started off with a light crowd to see a band called The Name. I didn't know them but I listened to a few of their songs on myspace and wasn't impressed. Live they were even less convincing. I'll not dwell too much on what was wrong but will instead relate some of my thoughts of seeing Pere Ubu. I saw this band a year ago in the same venue. Pere Ubu plays some weird kind of jazz/funk/blues/alternative/whatever mix and their frontman/singer David Thomas is an enigmatic figure, he entered the stage wearing a long coat and a fedora and chain-smoked his way through the concert. A formidable man with brilliant songtexts, this from The Story of my Life:

I was born in Miami, Florida, in 1953.
First thing I did was crack the back of my head on the floor.
I stepped on a bee when I was four.
I slammed the door of a `57 Chevy on my hand when I was six.
Little did I know that darker clouds were gathering on the horizon of my life.
[...]
Later on,
messing around in the backyard,
I was nine,
I stumbled onto the secret of Anti-Gravity.
It's such a simple trick, I said to myself,
I hope I can remember.
Instinctively, I knew that trouble was bound to come.


The female singer of The Name (seriously, what's up that name?) also entered the stage wearing a long coat. The similarities ended there. Hmm, ok, she also has a high-pitched voice that some people might find annoying. Her breasts were definitely nicer than David Thomas', on the other hand Thomas' belly is much more impressive, so I guess that evens out. Of course David Thomas doesn't have the figure or the legs to wear such a short skirt or top. On the other hand the singer of The Name wasn't quite comfortable in her top either, seriously, if you keep having to tug down your top because your hips and belly are showing perhaps it's about time to get a bigger freaking top!

The Name left me cold and the luke-warm applause that the 50 odd people gathered produced left me thinking that it was kind of sad to see a band such as this. For a band that has 2 cds out their music seems oddly bland, you'd think that they were just together for a few weeks and getting ready to do their first demo. Ah well, it was over soon enough and I was left with the sad realization that a girl who could be in deodorant commercials does not a band make.

In the intermezzo I was approached by someone, whom we will call Ms F. for now, we chatted a bit and went to a bar after the show. Remember that, it might turn out to be important later. There may be a test!

During the first band the sound was a bit shrill and harsh to my ears, luckily the sound engineer managed to fix that by the time Xandria came on. The music simply blew me away.
Xandria's singer, Lisa, has an amazing vocal range, from very low to very high and I was a bit worried that she might not be able to sustain this in a live performance. She did have a few problems with the really high stuff but overall she approached the performance of the cds very closely. The band was tight and the only regret I had was that the show only lasted for about one and a half hours.
Luckily the crowd had grown a bit but I still find it odd that so few people came to see the show, I estimate there were about 80 people in total. Playing on a wednesday maybe isn't the very best of ideas, they could also do with a professional warm-up band.
Xandria played a solid set, mostly stuff from their newest album Salomé, the Seventh Veil, but they also had time to dish out a few oldies such as India, Ravenheart and Isis/Osiris. Halfway through the show there was also some kind of a-capella druidic medieval poem-y song which I didn't know. Lisa's voice sent shivers down my spine. The story was a bit contrived, standard "Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, world ends" kind of stuff as Douglas Adams would put it. Lisa definitely has the ability to be in operas I feel, and her chatter between songs when some technical stuff went wrong was amusing. All in all a very good concert and one that I hope gets repeated soon.

Overall impression: The Name: give up, get a day-job. Xandria: awesome. Atmosphere: very good. Sound: very good after the warmup had left. Light: not too inspiring. Entire evening: awesome.

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