Blue Robot

Elf Power Returns to State College, Plays Chronic Town

Posted by Ryan Chase on 09/23 at 05:31 PM

Facing heavy competition from the NFL’s Monday Night Football and Mad Mex’s infamous five dollar burrito special, Elf Power still managed to pull in a respectable crowd at Chronic Town. Elf Power did not disappoint, even if you were secretly hoping they had something to do with Keebler.

Pushing their latest record, the self-titled “Elf Power,” their set consisted exclusively of tracks from this effort. Starting off with “The Taking Under,” a slow, plodding number driven by the soft vocals of Andrew Rieger - the lead singer - was a safe decision. It’s a good song. Yet I wonder if a catchier song, something more engaging (especially for patrons who were perhaps drawn to the show less for fanfare than curiosity), would have been better suited for an opener.

Song selection is paramount, especially for Elf Power.  They did not quite wield the sword of showmanship, like Queen or even the Hives, required for transforming an underwhelming song into something better simply through the power of their performance.  Chronic Town has a low set stage, a few feet away from the audience. Yet Elf Power failed to capitalize on the opportunity to connect with the audience in an engaging way. Therefore, Elf Power had to select very good songs in order to present themselves favorably to listeners who may not be intimately familiar with their discography.

Their second song “Stranger From the Window,” for instance, was a great selection.  It reminded me vaguely of the Minder’s “Hooray for Tuesday.” Dancing reached its peak here. Thereafter, the show simply went on, neither veering off to stagnancy nor ascending up to nirvana.  Elf Power was Elf Power: a solid, indie-pop band that did not always glue you to your seat, but kept you from taking a bathroom break.

It was a relatively short set, petering out after forty-five minutes or so. They finished by playing one of their finest songs, “Ghost of John.”  It was a luscious track, thumbing with trumpets and rich instrumentation, bringing a pleasant end to a wonderful night of music from a band that seemingly only passes through Happy Valley once in a blue moon.

Elf Power: Andrew Rieger (vocals and guitar); Jimmy Hughes (guitar and keyboards);  Derek Almstead (bass); Eric Harris (drums); Laura Carter (keyboards, clarinet, and accordion); Heather McIntosh (cello and keyboards); John Fernandes (violin).

Further Information: Official Elf Power Web site -or- Elf Power MySpace page

{name} Author: Ryan Chase
Bio: Ryan Chase is a senior at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in English and Sociology. In his free time, he enjoys writing, reading, woodcarving, and playing the guitar. Outside of most rap and opera, he listens to every type of music, but he prefers classic rock and jazz. His favorite artists are Robert Johnson, Heatmiser, and Minor Davis & the Fuzzy Slippers.


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