Models Need Sleep | 11.24.07

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live_essig.jpgYou see, Andrew's a singer-songwriter in his own right, and a damn fine one at that. What he lacks in stage presence and banter will come with experience; what he's got in song composition and delivery can't be learned as readily.






Old Rock House, St. Louis

Models Need Sleep is the musical identity of Andrew Essig. Perhaps Andrew's best known as being the younger brother of Grant (ex-Sevenstar, currently of Jonathan Cour's band), but that seems all about to change.

You see, Andrew's a singer-songwriter in his own right, and a damn fine one at that. What he lacks in stage presence and banter will come with experience; what he's got in song composition and delivery can't be learned as readily.

Saturday night marked the CD release show of Models Need Sleep's All Your Dead Weight. (The band is comprised of Andrew, his brother Grant, and Matt Hickenbotham on drums; producer Jon Armstrong believed in the project so much, he joined on bass.) Though the Old Rock House was perhaps not the best venue for the swelling yet intimate AAA-oriented music (to say nothing of guitar tech Kevin Barry sitting plain-as-punch onstage, applying Chapstick 'neath the spotlight), the show was still altogether fulfilling.

Andrew and Grant took the stage to begin the night, Andrew strumming an acoustic guitar and the brothers' high-pitched and distinctive voices blending and soaring. Matt and Jon joined to deliver the album's tracks, in order. True, it's Grant's vocals that have long captivated, but make no mistake: putting his elder brother on lead guitar was no slight decision on Andrew's part. With his pedal board stretching as long as he is tall, Grant jammed, strummed, stroked, coaxed, looped and effected to great measure. And yes, as a backing vocalist, he is truly unparalleled.

Highlights of the night included the incendiary "Bedpost" and its correlating, full-jam outro (called, conveniently enough, "Bedpost Outro"); "The Gentleman," a restrained, slow-burning Snow Patrol-ish number; the jagged guitar intro and slow-jam breakdown of "Space"; and the vocal agility of "Happy Ending."

(And although it feels shallow to comment on Jon's attire, those shiny silver tennis shoes and half-buttoned shirt were oh, so ridiculously distracting, especially next to Andrew and Grant's Attire by Woody's. And really, what was with Cour wearing his coat onstage only to doff it, then walk around stage snapping photos of the band as they played before providing backing vocals on the song he co-wrote?)

Guests Redding closed the night, providing the cherry atop an already satisfying show. This Greenville College quartet, currently working on the follow-up to their self-titled Rock Ridge Records debut, reminded once again how good they are. Dressed mainly in long-sleeve t-shirts, they were a respectable if casual crew; nothing about their attire distracted or commanded attention.

Onstage, they're such a self-contained unit, largely facing one another, playing for themselves; it's not a lack of stage presence, rather a lack of the need for much of one. The band at times recalls Duncan Sheik, that palatable AAA/smooth indie pop sound, though they did occasionally break into something harder: an especially rockin' Radiohead cover, a cacophonous, crashing new song. After a final bonus treat of another new song-this one featuring guitarist/vocalist Joseph Graves on piano, admittedly unfamiliar terrain for him-the band took its bows and the crowd left, fulfilled. | Laura Hamlett

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