On Thursday, Sept. 25, The Marquee will be graced with the presence of Oxford, Mississippi's Colour Revolt, along with equally stellar indie acts Sybris, Neva Dinova and openers McCarthy Trenching and Scales of Motion.
The young rockers who make up Revolt have experienced a promising slow-burn pattern of buzz and hype over the last several years. As the college three-piece act Fletcher, Jesse Coppenbarger (guitar, vocals), Jimmy Cajoleas (guitar) and Len Clark (percussion) grew into themselves by playing shows in Oxford, where the University of Mississippi provided young ears for the band to grow with. Eventually, they changed their name to Colour Revolt, recorded an EP on Esperanza Plantation, and acquired two more members (bassist Patrick Addison and keyboardist/guitarist Sean Kirkpatrick). Now, they're on the verge of breakout success, thanks to the largely positive notices received by their debut full-length Plunder, Beg, and Curse. Though released through the esteemed blues-centric label Fat Possum, Plunder is an album of quirks and contradictions that owes as much to early '90s grunge and '80s shoegazer as it does to retro-blues rock.
"We've heard people describe us as blue-gazer before, which I like," Coppenbarger explained during a recent telephone interview. "It's basically indie rock, with psychedelic elements, kinda bluesy..."
If Coppenbarger seemed to trail off in attempting to describe his own band, it's because the music Colour Revolt makes is surprisingly hard to categorize.
Sinewy, elusive guitar melodies (coming from no fewer than three players) eschew straight hooks in favor of a much more complex pattern of counter-intuitive licks that are at various points both benignly atmospheric and abruptly violent. Accompanying the heavy guitar presence is Coppenbarger's wailing vocals--all growl and scream one moment and quiet tremble the next. The lyrics are dark, brooding and heavy on religious imagery, with a definite debt owed to the 20th century southern-gothic novelists of the band's native region. This isn't surprising; the band's literate background is evident from the get-go, beginning with its title.
"(The phrase 'Colour Revolt') comes from a book called Flatland," Coppenbarger said. "It's basically social commentary from this guy from England (Edwin Abbott). It's about a two-dimensional world where everything's divided into either colors or shapes or lines, and everything is in a social hierarchy based on how many sides it has. At some point, there's this color revolution, a beautiful explosion of creativity, where everything is equal for this short period time."
Hence, Colour Revolt (and its British spelling). "It's a beautiful explosion of everyone being equal and just doing their thing," he said, in reference to the phrase's applied meaning as a band name.
Coppenbarger admitted that the British spelling tended to attract disdain from many people.
"Most people hate us right away," he laughed. "The first impression from people is usually 'Colour Revolt? Where are they from? Mississippi? Oh, that's fucking bullshit.'"
Despite the literary pretense, the music is raw and unbridled, like an id-driven Nirvana playing '70s rock 'n roll.
Lyrically, Coppenbarger takes great care to paint with broad strokes. Songs are evocative and unsettling, but abstract in purpose and meaning.
"I try to paint pictures that are offsetting in some way," he said. "Religious pictures are the most attractive, but also the most uncomfortable."
Nowhere is this more evident or potent than on "Naked and Red," a screeching, staccato-heavy rumination on an alternative reality set in the Garden of Eden.
"I was just trying to paint a picture, but it brought up different ideas about Adam and sin," he explained. "What if Adam had killed the devil, and was just running around like a fuckin' maniac?"
"There goes Adam with the Devil's head/ His body's all naked and red
I'm still swigging from the liquor tree / and Eden is a hell of a place"
This radical perspective blankets all of Plunder, Beg, and Curse with the feeling of a hungover fire-and-brimstone sermon--like being in a dive bar, listening to a drunk talk about God.
It's a uniquely southern point of view, and one that's won the praise of critics and the devotion of fans. With this momentum, Colour Revolt is crossing the Midwest on a large tour, leading to a performance at next weekend's Austin City Limits music festival. Thursday's show will be something of a rehearsal for their imminent ACL performance, but, based on their already well-honed live chops, it's sure to be one hell of a rehearsal.
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