Kevin Norris

As Tall As Lions @ Club Nokia 10/10/09

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As the lights dimmed at the packed Club Nokia in Los Angeles on Saturday night, the Long Island-based group, As Tall As Lions, trotted onto the cramped stage, where they were greeted with a roaring applause that seemed like it was suppose to be saved for the nights headlining act, MuteMath. Despite being billed as the opening act, ATAL played an extraordinarily impressive set that argued for them to be see as the night’s main attraction.

Opening with a instrumental song that felt like it belonged in a “Lord of the Rings” movie, the band worked its way through a set that was packed with songs from their latest release “You Can’t Take it With You.” Still, various songs from 2006’s self-titled album did appear (“Stab City” and “Ghost of York”), but it was with their new, more polished material that ATAL really shined.

At times, singer Daniel Nigro and guitarist Saen Fitzgerald seemed caged by the limited stage space, as they stood focused entirely on the precession of their performances instead of drawing attention to themselves. Quite the opposite was bassist Julio Tavarez, who had no sense of restriction to his karate-like dancing as he and hard hitting drummer Cliff Sarcona worked collectively to provide the sets enthusiasm and dynamics behind songs like “Circles” and “Go Easy.”

With that being said, the barefooted Nigro didn’t need much animation to showcase his talent; his lofty vocals on “Sixes and Sevens” and “In Case of Rapture” were certainly compelling enough to summon Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke comparisons.

The night’s best and most inimitable moment was when Nigro used a megaphone to channel the chaotic distortion of Tom Waits voice on the moody, piano-driven “We’s Been Waitin’.” It was with this that ATAL was able to demonstrate their versatility, something that opening acts usually fail to present.

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