It's always a good time when you can check out an up-and-coming band and help support a cool local venue. Last Saturday I had the opportunity to do both as I caught Cleveland, TN's Sinai Vessel as they made their Nashville debut at Rocketown. After quickly warming up the room with a little Skynyrd (trying to head off any potential "Freebird" outbursts later on I'm sure), the talented alt-emo-rock trio played an impassioned six song set that was filled with energetic playing, out-of-the-box musicianship and imaginative lyrics. Lead singer/guitarist Caleb Cordes, bassist Kenny Vanderberg and drummer Clark Medlin ebbed and flowed together to create a unified sonic roller coaster of loud, aggressive highs and quiet, controlled lows. Opening song "Drown Around" invited the crowd in with a welcoming jazzy shuffle and "Wisteria" followed along nicely with a Pedro the Lion flavored chorus and an incredible instrumental breakdown. "Heels of Lions" pulsated into an emotional, cathartic ballad and a killer, broken down cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" drifted along on the flow of a drum loop and a glockenspiel. A song with the working title of "Cats" was next and it was the second song of the night that brought a Pedro the Lion or Dashboard Confessional vibe to mind with some mixed meter passages and a nice drum and bass breakdown. They closed out with "The Submariner," a driving song that had the crowd singing along with its multiple "liar" refrains before it was through. I was impressed with Sinai Vessel's ability to write songs that were not afraid to deviate from the comfortable confines of standard song structures and their ability to play within unconventional chordings and time signatures expressively and enthusiastically. By playing their songs well, throwing in a super cool cover and leaving the crowd wanting some more, they did everything right to make a lasting first impression on the crowd. I'm sure this will not be the last time Nashville will get to play host to a Sinai Vessel show and I hope I'll be lucky enough to catch the next one too!
You can hear more from Sinai Vessel on their Bandcamp page and you can follow them on their Twitter and Facebook as well.