Qiet: Live +2
There are bands that are great on record and bands that are great live. A precious few shine either way. To love the band Qiet the way that I do, I think you’d have to see it perform. That said, Qiet’s new EP, Live +2, is an ideal representation of what the band brings to the stage.
The live portion of the EP comprises four songs recorded at The Union in Athens, Ohio. These tracks perfectly demonstrate the differences between an excellent studio recording and a masterful live performance of the same song. Compare “Mayfly Man” from the band’s magnum opus, Kiss of the Universe, with the version offered here. “Mayfly Man” live clocks in almost 30 seconds shorter than the studio recording. In a song that’s 4 minutes and change long, this represents a difference of just enough to sound urgent and desperate whilst still retaining the character of the studio version.
Qiet is not just offering the same content played faster, however. “Pretty Perfect” is almost exactly the same length, and yet the live version contains a verve, flirting with madness, that gets closer to the heart of the lyrics. Alternating between creepy and florid, the song is a crowd favorite, and yet how many dancing revellers follow its narrative of childhood traumas and half-dead rabbits? How do we adults become the twisted creatures we are? “Pretty Perfect” hints at at least one person’s story. The new performance is sharp but still fluid and enough fun to make you dance.
Live cuts of “Dionysian Dream” and “Daddy’s Too Old” are welcome additions to the Qiet cannon. Both songs are presented with love and keen attention to the lyrics, all the while sticking with the band’s usual dichotomy of brainy, philosophical content contrasted by music ranging from juiced-up ragtime jazz to indie rock perfection. Under what genus and species should these songs be grouped? I’ve compared them to both Devotchka and Gogol Bordello, and yet neither band possesses a writer close to Qiet frontman Christopher Vincent, and neither band has a sonic diversity that compares to Qiet. Indeed, Qiet defies genre and comparisons, ultimately really only sounding like itself.
If I have any complaint about the live section of the EP, it’s just that there isn’t more of it. I was at this show (that’s me screaming in the audience), and I can assure you the entire set was outstanding. That said, as good as this is, it’s still not the band at its absolute zenith. Qiet sounds even better with the stunningly gifted vocal talents of Shayla Leftridge and Holly Elizabeth Forbes. The band has also since added keyboards from Jarren Jackson of Huntington’s esteemable Heavy Hitters.
The point I am getting at is that you should not miss a chance to see Qiet, ever. Aside from the powerfully good live performances the band inevitably delivers, a live show is the only place to get the Live + 2 EP.
Half of the “plus two” of this EP is Qiet’s resurrection of the Composition 7-era track “Talk.” According to Vincent, he wrote this song at the age of 13, a fact that does not really surprise me. “Talk” sounds nothing like much else Qiet has recorded. It’s a grungy 2-minute blast of sexual and emotional frustration that has a lot more in common with Mudhoney than gypsy folk. Though unmistakably youthful, it still feels emotionally relevant. So many of us lament sex that is not love, only mating.
Wildly contrasting “Talk” is Live + 2’s last track, a Christopher Vincent solo effort called “Green-Eyed Monster.” Like “Talk,” this song has been around for a while and even seems like a natural progression of “Talk”s rage into the quiet bitterness of adulthood. One of the finest verses from any song Vincent has written is found here:
“Yes, I will write about you dear
and, oh, how I hope you hear
I hope you feel every whip of my tongue
I won’t feel better, but what’s done will be done.”
Vincent’s lyrical superpower is to pack so much meaning into only a few words, a gift well-displayed on all of these songs, but especially on this solo acoustic track.
In the EP’s intro, Vincent quips, “Ready? I don't think you are!” If you still haven’t seen the best band in West Virginia live, I would concur: Whether you’re ready or not, go to a Qiet show, and take a copy of Live + 2 home with you.