Fighting Gravity/Vital Might
November 18, 2005
By: Sophie Ricks
Three men walk into a bar-a fitness instructor, a web developer and a non-profit communications coordinator. It may sound like a bad joke, but in this case the bar is Harper's Ferry and the three men make up The Vital Might, a local band testing their songs on the Friday night crowd while opening for Richmond-based Fighting Gravity.
Defining themselves as "singer-songwriters The Vital Might played a fun, energetic set to enthusiastic audience response. With band members spending their days at such different day jobs (and operating under a variety of musical influences to boot) one might expect a disjointed sound to come through at their shows. How do you combine the talents of a Primus influenced bassist ("Dids"), a drummer with primarily jam, jazz and metal experience ("Cracker") and a singer/guitarist who pushes the band's sound toward a blend of prog-rock and singer-songwriter material (Andy)? With songs that showcase these differences, or "embrace them," if I'm choosing to be super corny.
"Martyr" opened the band's eleven-song set-a catchy melody with punchy vocals. This is what I like to call a "clean-your-room-song," something good to yell along with while throwing dirty laundry into piles, frantically crushing old bills and receipts into tiny balls and angrily scraping your roomate's gum out of the carpet. Under "Sounds Like" on The Vital Might's myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/thevitalmight) is written, "Intense fitness combined with frosty beverages and a fierce attitude for getting awesome"-not a bad description of what I witnessed.
with an interesting sound and a friendly demeanor (rare in famously uncuddly
Boston), The Vital Might shared what may be the most shocking secret since
Abu Ghraib-a cheap Vietnamese sandwich shop at downtown crossing (Saigon Sandwich,
696 Washington Street). For that information alone, I could say get to know
these guys-if you're lucky, they might even give you their latest "Steps
Towards Getting AWESOME designed Specifically for YOU" and a copy of
their three-track demo. If not, you can wait around to pay for their full
length, out next spring.
Next up is Fighting Gravity, a veteran band whose first lineup formed in the early 80's (http://www.fightinggravity.com). Throughout the set (unfortunately cut short by technical difficulties after eighteen songs) lead singer Schiavone McGee grabs the attention of the mainly female crowd, toasting the fans, giving high-fives to the women dancing up front, and at one point even inviting them up on stage to help sing.
band has evolved from its early ska roots into something I can only attempt
to define as a mix of world-beat, reggae, pop and rock. McGee's smooth vocals,
foot stomping and charismatic chatter were a continuous thread running through
the set of both original songs and covers (Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell,"
U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" and The Verve's "Bittersweet
Symphony" to name a few). When asked about his influences McGee named
bands who "create an aura onstage" and sing with real passion-people
like P.J. Harvey, Coheed & Cambria, Thursday, Frank Sinatra, and Bjork.
That passion comes through in Fighting Gravity's original songs, satisfying
the fans swigging beer and singing along in front of the stage, and keeping
Harper's Ferry full and rowdy until well past 1:30.