Over a plate of loaded spuds and a frosty beverage, we readied ourselves for a Friday evening full of music at Tatohead’s Public House in Columbus.
Admiral Contempt were hosting their EP release party at the intimate venue, with the help of The Cadence (from Columbus) and Icky Romantic (from Cincinnati). We profiled the band earlier for a “New Music Monday” segment that you can read here.
As we have seen them previously at this establishment, I was curious as to whether they would change any of the stylings in their songs, showing they have an ability to dig deep into their musical backgrounds. Also, it was good to see Maddie Nicole (vocals/guitar), James Sterling (guitar/vocals) and Jackson Arnold (keyboards) again.
They played a wonderful nine-song set, including the entire EP. Asked to describe their sound, what came to mind was “sexy, gypsy folk pop.” Trust me, it works.
After the blues/rock of The Cadence and the melodic indie pop of Icky Romantic warmed the crowd up, they took the stage and launched into Set My Table. Arnold killed it with some extraordinary work on the keyboards, once again reminding us of Keith Emerson in his heyday.
Maddie’s vocals on Fortune Teller were full of emotion, bordering on an almost-angry vibe. Sterling and Arnold added little flourishes that made the song that much more powerful.
We could feel her pain on the melancholy Sex with My Ex. Flashing a sultry smile at the crowd, Maddie showed that she has a depth of emotion that everyone could feel. Arnold coaxed a Hammond organ sound from the keys, adding to the vexed emotion of the lyrics.
The slower tempo of The End made the song feel as though you were watching a classic black-and-white film with any of the stars from the 1940’s or 1950’s. It’s a meaningful tune filled with resignation at what once was.
At this point, they passed out to the crowd digital downloads of their new EP “Lost to the Wind”, making for a surprised and appreciative audience.
Hanging Man was next, making you feel as though you were walking through a beautiful summer day with its soft melody. The audience got in on the groove, clapping along in time with the band.
More clapping accompanied Staring at the Sun, with Arnold’s tinkling on the keys adding sublime touches to the happiness of the song. Following this, Gentle Bird saw Maddie join Arnold on the keyboards, with Sterling leaning against the amplifier stack as he played his acoustic guitar.
High and Dry had a jaunty tempo, showcased by Sterling’s understated guitar work.
They closed their set with a song they said had not been played in a while. The Devil’s Kin is a dark song that fit Maddie’s emotive vocal style exquisitely. Sterling coaxed a gothic church bell sound from his guitar, before transitioning into a mellow sound reminiscent of David Gilmour. We could all feel the pain in Maddie’s vocals as she sang, “Tear me limb from limb…”
This is a band that has a depth to their sound and styling that defies being pigeonholed into one specific genre. All I can tell you is that you should make the time to experience Admiral Contempt in a live setting.
Admiral Contempt – Set My Table