This is a review of the April 5, 1996 concert given by OCTOBER PROJECT at Bogarts in Cincinnati Ohio. LONG (and how!)
There is a secret. Not a secret like in The Crying Game, and not a secret like why we have to pay taxes, but an important and wonderful secret. Read on…
First, information about the evening. A clear and cold evening in Cincinnati set the stage for excited concert-goers. When I arrived at Bogarts around 7:15 (doors set to open at 7:30), there were just a few people in line ahead of me. Shortly, as we were standing there getting chilly, Urbano walked by with Mary, Marina, and a technician on his heels. After I recognized Urbano (just said hello as he rushed past), a murmur of excitement rippled through the increasing crowd.
The doors opened and we entered the long, wide hallway that is Bogarts. It is my feeling that in a past life Bogarts was a bowling alley due to the long, wide, sloped construction. We found a table near the stage, perhaps eight rows back and settled in for the show.
At exactly 8:30, Joy Askew and her band came to the stage. Resembling Chrissy Hinds (of Pretenders) in voice and appearance, Joy played and sang through eight songs and mentioned that her first album, TENDER CITY, will be released by Private Label on April 16. At about 9:10, Joy left the stage to very warm applause.
At 9:35, October Project took the stage with calm grace and elegance.
First, a description of the band: MARY: Black hip-hugger pants, black midriff, black jacket. Mary was not as tall as I thought her to be, and every bit as pretty as the jacket pictures indicate (* WOW! *).
EMIL: Black jeans, white linen shirt, black leather vest. Emil looked very intense on stage — his concentration is very focused. Between songs, however, he was mild and smiling, enjoying the vibe of the hall.
MARINA: Black leggings, black slacks, black silk top, white vinyl jacket. My first thought about Marina, echoed by others at my table, was that she is strikingly beautiful. As soon as she opened her mouth to sing, we knew that Marina is graced with an auditory as well as visual beauty.
DAVID: Black jeans, light colored tee shirt. He is handsome, and looks very young! I have no idea what his (or any of the band members) age is, but I would not have been surprised to hear that he was carded coming into the hall.
URBANO: Dark green jeans, light colored long-sleeve shirt, sailor cap. Where I was sitting, I was blocked from a clear view of Urbano by one of the cymbals on the drumset. When I met him (see below), he was younger looking than I expected.
Sound problems were persistant throughout the concert. The house-right speaker stack cut in and out frequently, and the lighting seemed to have a short in it that crept up from time to time — pitfalls of using venue systems. However, in no way did the small technical glitches interfere with the music or gentle ambiance of the show.
Now, a setlist with comments:
Deep As You Go — an outstanding opener. Many people are familiar with this song, and the already-excited crowd was drawn in by this song.
Ariel — Very popular. This is one of their most beautiful songs, and to hear Marys soaring voice live is incredible.
Where You Are
Adam & Eve — Mary said that this is one of those songs that transports (her) to another planet every time she sings it. She took us there tonight as well.
Sunday Morning, Yellow Sky — when talking with Marina after the show, she said that her voice cracked in the middle of one of her high harmonies in the song, the worst crack of (her) professional career. She asked if I heard it, but I was so entranced that I did not.
After the Fall
Johnny — Urbano did a really intricate drum rhythm on the rims of the bongo to get the song started. After this song, Mary asked Who were the two girls who caught me eating a sandwich out back? Ahh… the glamorous life on the road!
Wall of Silence
Funeral In His Heart — incredible performance, perhaps one of the highlights of the evening for me. Gauging from the extended applause after the song, it was one of the highlights for many in the crowd.
One Dream — this was the closest they came to rocking out all evening. The bass was mixed a little heavily during this song, IMO. At this break, Mary introduced the band as the essential OCTOBER PROJECT. They had played in Cincinnati another time (perhaps more than once before?) and she said it was very, very nice to be back in Cincinnati.
Paths of Desire
Something More Than This — amazingly beautiful rendition of a song about strength in solitude. Mary performed it with such clarity and understanding that the meaning of the song was illuminated. Her voice, as it soared and expanded, was like riding a silken cloud. This is another personal fave.
Falling Farther In — Started with a complex bongo/voice passage. Awesome, funky, cool. This song ended the set.
After FALLING FARTHER IN, the band said goodnight and left the stage at 10:40. With a solid 5-minutes of standing ovation, they returned, and played:
If I Could
Bury My Lovely — a standout fave from the show. This was the first song I heard by OCTOBER PROJECT, and remains one of my favorites. Though the theme of the song is letting go, Mary held now in forget me now _FOREVER_. She proved that her voice is rock-solid even after an evenings work.
Be My Hero — I found it interesting that they would follow Bury My Lovely, a song about letting go and independance, with this song about need. It rocked. When the song ended, they exited the stage again. To much clapping and stomping, OCTOBER PROJECT returned to play:
Return To Me — My notes, as written during the show: A needy song about love — wonderfully and harmoniously executed — Making the _choice_ to need someone else in life is perhaps true strength. Not from weakness, I _choose_ to need. From strength, I choose. After the song, Mary asked, One more?, and they launched into:
Always — another cool bongo intro by Urbano. Again, my notes, as written during the show: The combination of Marys & Marinas voices, blending & soaring evokes the power of the lyrics.
They ended the show with this song and exited the stage to a standing ovation.
This could be the end of the report, but several exciting things happened after the show ended. My friend who attended the show had to get back to his car, so we left the hall rather quickly. I dropped him off and went back to Bogarts.
When I arrived, I located a small group of people at the stage door and stood talking with them until a stagehand came out and asked if any of us would like to meet the band. We were offered admission to the cramped backstage area of Bogarts, and met Mary, David, Marina, Emil, and Urbano. I spoke for a few minutes each with Marina, Mary, and Emil, and met David and Urbano only briefly. All members of the band were EXTREMELY outgoing and friendly, and for the first time ever, I felt as if they were interested in knowing _me_ as well as the others. Mary asked for my name as we started talking — thats never happened to me when meeting famous people. The entire band was very excited about signing our stuff, and talked with the group of fans for about 20 minutes.
Some interesting parts: Mary (and later, Marina) said that they had just come from a _terrible_ show in Toledo Ohio. As Mary described it, it was a midnight show and only 50 people showed up, and they were more interested in talking and smoking than listening. Mary described the bands energy as low going into tonights show, but that once they heard and then saw the crowd, the entire band picked up the energy of the crowd. Marina also expressed her happiness at seeing Cincinnati’s (virtually) sold out hall.
Marina said that they were talking about being an opening band for a larger act tour this summer. She mentioned Tori Amos as a possibility, but nothing set in stone.
I spoke to Emil for a short time. Tonight was the first I learned about their (weekly?) jaunts into cyberspace — apparently, OCTOBER PROJECT chats every Thursday (?) on AOL (I think AOL). He seemed to be pleased with the online turn-out, but did not say much else about it.
I told Emil that I would be doing this write-up for the mailing list (my words) and Emil said, The OPus list? What a literate, articulate group of people!. He then asked for my screen name and email address, which I happily provided (Emil — let me know if you are interested in college, too! (-: ), and said he was interested in seeing this article (I hope he gets to, too!). Additionally, Emil and I came up with the name of their next album — F*CKBUCKET 2000 (inside joke — sorry!).
I did meet and greet two people wearing OPus buttons (I never got one). It was Joy, and a gentleman whose name escapes me (sorry!). I enjoyed speaking with them — they had driven a distance to attend the show.
There was a man sitting to the left of the stage passing out hand-made bound booklets called The Etheric Music of October Project. This bound booklet contained complete lyrics for all the albums as well as several fascinating interviews with the band. When Mary saw the booklet, she said it was intense.
I wanted to let the anonymous gentleman know — a copy of the booklet and your card was given to the band. Emil was familiar with your information – he said, I do not know how, but he got a card to us before.
Enough. Let me wrap. It’s 1:27 and I want to post this before I go to bed.
I enjoyed tonights show very much. Hearing such passionate lyrics, such compelling music, and such mezmerizing vocals as well as seeing beautiful people performing is an extrodinarily rewarding experience. OCTOBER PROJECT was really on tonight – they fed off the abundant energy of the crowd and gave us a wonderful show.
The secret is out — time, energy, and money spent seeing OCTOBER PROJECT perform live is one of the best investments in entertainment you will ever make.
GO SEE OCTOBER PROJECT!