When guitar pick met metal string, conversations were stopped, it seemed, mid-word. Pulses of sound were immediately sent bouncing off the worn walls of the Bottle; rattling echoes into the brains of the sizeable, Tuesday night crowd.
All eyes were on Colony Park.
From a dimly lit corner of the bar, Colony Park (the model name of an old Mercury station wagon) started into their set with the aptly named “Instrumental”. Hints of drone-rock reminiscent of Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” washed over in waves as lead-man Eric Van Orman (vocals/guitar) cast out his melodic chords through delay and chorus effect pedals.
“Tremble” followed next. A sturdy backbone consisting of Alex Philbrick on bass and Mike Carter on drums propped up Van Orman as his vocals reverb-ed over clean, popping riffs.
Colony proceeded to march through their set-list which featured an excellent cover of 28th Day’s (Barbara Manning’s old band) “Pages Turn” and a melancholy, distancing track “Standing by the Gate” that portrayed the group’s depth both lyrically and musically. Some solos had Van Orman wrestling his guitar, tapping pedals, gripping the whammy bar tight, while the lighting (or booze) sent tracers flying behind Carter’s crashing drumsticks.
This was Colony Park’s second show at the Empty Bottle in as many months. And, as they have shown before, the Chicago-based group was able to envelope familiar sounds with new twists, combining innovative flavors with nostalgia: novel indie-rock sensibilities – rib-sticking hooks, head-bobbing beats – entwined with raw, post-British Invasion garage rock elements. And through their purposeful song-writing, Colony Park oversees that just the right blend makes its way into every song.
It was a show worth remembering and, without question, seeing again
After their set, I overheard a modest Van Orman promise one fan a recording soon to come. In the meantime, their perfectly unrefined sound will be found dwelling within the various dank, brick-walled venues of the city; like a mint condition, vintage Mercury wagon in a ramshackle garage.