The Way Out

Howlin' Wolf

June 18, 2005


It's always interesting to watch a band grow. Locals The Way Out self-released last year's "White Lies" EP, a cycle of solid, if mostly monochromatic, sad indie rock about silent movies, hearts, and echoes. "White Lies" is well-written, but the band struggles with finding a unique voice in a sea of Death Cabs and Coldplays.

A few months can make one hell of a difference. The group played several new songs at the Howlin Wolf Saturday night, including the set opener, which was written earlier in the day. Codas smashed the previously dull endings of several songs, proving what I've believed all along: The Way Out should make instrumental music. This is nothing against singer Michael Mantese's voice, which has strengthened greatly since the recording of "White Lies." The live arrangements were just that good. The five piece would often lock into a thick(well, thick for sad indie rock) groove, all guitar noise and furious drumming by Augie Gallo. Keyboardist Evan Stoudt provided eerie, tasteful splashes of melody over the din.

Where they sound timid on record, the live Way Out are brimming with confidence and power. The instrumental "Ode (Two)" and the aptly titled "Pop Song" were nice color changes from the rest of the set. While "Ode (Two)" brought out a sounds more furious than any of the album's very serious tracks, "Pop Song" shed light on a new side of the Way Out: the happy side. The track was all bubblegum melody, and it stayed in my head well after I left the Wolf.

The group closed with another assault of instruments. After Mantese delivered the final lines of the set closer, he jumped on Gallo's kick drum while Gallo ran around the kit, pushing his ride cymbal near the breaking point with a furious, violent motion. Where the group stoically make emotional music on record, they play with a serious passion live.

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