Tilly & the Wall
The Social, Orlando, Fl July 22, 2008
The crowd at The Social spilled out onto Orange Ave. for an early Tuesday evening show brought to fans by Tilly & the Wall. I don't know about their popularity in other cities, but in Orlando their fans are among the most enthusiastic I've seen.
While the road crew set up the stage for the multiple band members, the tap dancing percussionist, Jamie, made an appearance for just long enough to toss out a couple dozen balloons, which were promptly blown up and tossed about. For the next 20 minutes, a few hundred blissfully happy indie rock fans were transformed into kids at a birthday party. Red, blue, white, and yellow balloons of all sizes were batted around the room, frequently bouncing off of the disco ball that hung overhead, while club music blared from the sound system. After most of the balloons had been systematically popped, the happiest band on Earth was welcomed onstage.
Brightly dressed in ABBA inspired disco duds, the three ladies that make up the core of Tilly & the Wall inspired continuous screams from the girls and boys at their feet. In-between worshipful hoots and hollers, the fans danced like fifteen-year-olds on ecstasy. When your band centers around tap dancing (in addition to lead percussionist Jamie, the two female vocalists, Kianna and Neely, also tap out the beats), it's important to maintain a feeling of movement within the audience. I, for one, wouldn't be hip to dancing to a static crowd. Luckily for the Omaha band, the fans are always willing to play -- and sing -- along.
The lyrics of some of the band's catchiest songs don't always make a lot of sense, and they're quite a mouthful:
Now they're drilling my teeth while I'm soiling sheets With my lover/ She's counting the diamonds on rings/ And even when truth doesn't help with the sting/ Out of no numbers, some harsh looking colour/ You pull them out, feel they're changed -- from "Rainbows in the Dark"
... yet the fans never seemed to stumble. They knew every word and every beat in a way that would require hours upon hours of repeated listening to get.
Even the new songs off of their latest release O, an album that had only been available for one month by the time of the show, caused no pause for singing fans. When the band plowed through "Pot Kettle Black," an angrier song that shows a garage-rock girl-group side of the otherwise happy-go-lucky indie dance band, the fans erupted as if the song had been near and dear to their hearts for ages. I admit, I am one of them.
Bursts of confetti created clouds of color around the band, which includes male vocalist/guitarist Derek as well as a trio of other men on keyboard, guitar, and drums, sporadically throughout the hour plus set.
A quiet moment occured in the middle of all of the fun, as Kianna and Neely took a seat center stage and perform a duet ballad. Taking a breather from the colorful chaos, I was struck by the strength of the girls' voices. While Neely lays the lust down on the low end with a voice that's rich and deep, Kianna has a range that rivals Christina Aguilera's. It caught me off guard and held me entranced as she easily emoted feelings of lust, longing, and loss throughout the performance of a song I was unfamiliar with, but instantly loved.
After a three-song encore, fans congregated around the merch table in hopes of another glimpse of the band that never fails to put a smile of their fans' faces.