The 5 Spot Nashville, TN
Material: Musicians draw inspiration from their idols. To blossom into icons themselves, though, they must carve unique paths. Anchor Thieves plunder a range of alternative noisemakers to fuel their vision, with bands such as Dinosaur Jr. and Radiohead being cited influences. The resulting diversity between songs creates a patina of freshness. However, their appreciation for what’s come before seems to have triggered a paucity of originality and a lack of cohesion regarding their overall sound.
Musicianship: This Music City trio has been making noise since 2009. As such, they seem extraordinarily comfortable playing alongside one another. Each note snaps perfectly into place, like pieces of a sonic puzzle forming a grand picture. Though every moment feels natural, the group’s preference for showcasing sturdy songwriting means there’s zero room for improvisation or tension, thus smothering whatever creative oxygen they once embodied.
Performance: Their 40-minute set carried listeners on a journey through time. After a speedy introduction by Grey Jacks of The Grey A, whose headlining performance doubled as an album release party, Anchor Thieves launched into “Ice In the Desert.” The song felt like a folk-rock ditty plucked from the heart of the ‘60s. Following this was what one might classify as ‘70s-style adult contemporary soft rock. Subsequent tunes could have existed within the new wave scene of the ‘80s. For their final songs, they seemingly transformed into a ‘90s grunge act.
Worthy of note is that lead vocalist Cayce Keller never spotlighted the players, nor was there branding of any kind. Fatally, there weren’t any killer numbers that left listeners grooving or humming.
Summary: Anchor Thieves appear comfortable with the artists they’ve grown into, for better or worse. While this quality imbues confidence in audiences, the elements of discovery and danger are therefore missing. Paradoxically, Keller openly admitted to being thrown by the presence of a decent-sized audience. For a band that’s been around, such a comment triggers worry. Despite the professional quality of their yarns and the grand sentiments they evoke, Anchor Thieves would do well to obliterate the source of their stagnation.
– Andy Kaufmann