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Review: Caelume, Humans at The Mel

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Caelume rocked a past show at The Hoosier Dome. - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Caelume blazed through a set of the intelligent 90s screamo and post-punk songs that have brought them so much attention in Indianapolis. An intimate crowd at The Melody Inn on Wednesday, August 29 witnessed this fifth edition of the Wasted Wednesday series, presented by Drink Or Die, which also featured spastic, groove-chaos punks, Humans, and the adorable fuzz-pop duo, Outdoor Velour; both groups from Bloomington.

I walked into the bar to see Caelume worriedly tapping at their phones around a table. They told me there were problems, that they needed to borrow a speaker cabinet and guitar from one of the other bands but had not met them. I found Humans smoking cigarettes in the Mel's backyard beergarden and presented the dilemma. The Humans trio was happy to help, careful to warn about guitarist Joel Henline's strange guitar, a modified Ibanez that has lost any visual similarity to its original state.

With that problem solved I caught up with Humans and we talked about their past tour. Everyone's favorite date was in Chicago where they got to take a trip through the Lincoln Park Zoo. They had not practiced in some time. Zachary Jetter, drummer, had spent the summer touring, recording, and performing with his other projects including Laura K. Balke & Co., Buttonhoof, and th'EMPIRES. Bassist James O'Dea only recently rejoined the band.

Outdoor Velour took the stage and the chemistry between the two was immediately evident. Greg Simpson plays guitar while Cara Kinnally plays the bass, both trading off singing duties as a backing track from an iPod keep pace with drums. At times the iPod adds a second guitar and keyboard, giving Outdoor Velour a full-effect. Each song combines a restrained curiosity in distorted feedback with laid-back pop style.

As Humans sets up Caelume guitarist Kai Warmoth leans toward me, "So that's the guitar? Yeah, that's going to be weird."

Henline's converted Ibanez features dials from an early 70s stereo instead of the stock plastic the instrument would have come with. He replaced the original pick-up with a Seymour Duncan humbucker and made some special changes to the body of the guitar. In Henline's hands it looks at home, but outside of the strangeness of Humans the guitar looks distorted itself, lacquered in a muddied brown and tan. A listen to Humans' newest EP, Milk Pond, will give you an idea of the gut-wrenching this guitar does to an audience (and it's their first vinyl release, through Glory Hole Records). We bob and shove to the short swinging-thrash melodies that Humans puts out from the stage. Beer cans thrown at the smiling musician's faces only force wider smiles.

Caelume takes a more ambitious approach to arranging their gear. Drummer Tim Sharkey and bassist Steve McAtee remain onstage with the collective amplifiers, speakers, and pedals, while guitarists Warmoth and Jake Borden stepped down from the stage. Vocalist Tyler Anderson brought the microphone stand down as well, joining a close-knit group of Wasted Wednesday lovers. They powered through their set of authentic screamo which features atmospheric resonation and intensely powerful lyrics. Warmouth grooves back and forth to each song. Anderson loses his shirt after the second or third song, exposing a surprising lack of body hair. The band plays each riff with the emotional fury or passive malaise necessary.

The group plans to tour next spring, after recording a full-length in the Winter with Burning Bridge Recordings in Nashville. Also in the works are a split with Pessoa. Both will be released through Galt House Records.

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