Band Concert Review
Holy Roman Empire: The Empire Stands
The Metro - Chicago, IL - January 20, 2006
Led by Emily Schambra's unique female voice and some powerful drumming by Tony Tintari, Chicago's own Holy Roman Empire played their first headlining show Friday night at the Metro. After Ryan's Hope warmed up the half-packed crowd to a surprisingly strong punk set, Holy Roman Empire stepped on stage to deliver a twelve song sampling of their recently completed and refined sound.
While their six song 2005 release Lost In Landscapes is the band's first album on the Hewhocorrupts label, Holy Roman Empire is no stranger to the Chicago music scene. In a junior league Audioslave-like cast of music veterans, Holy Roman Empire band mates have seen action in Rise Against, Shai Hulud, Long Distance Runner, Arma Angelus, Stabbed By Words, The Suicide File and The Hope Conspiracy. With such a ranging collective resume, it's no wonder this quintet (rounded out by Neeraj Kane and Jay Jancetic on guitar with Geoff Reu on the bass) understands the importance of touring and making a name for yourself.
So, a friend of a friend (who is an avid glass-blowing horticulturist) told me to come and check out his cousin's band at the Metro last Friday night among the snowflakes falling outside on Clark Street. What I heard was a dead-on cover of U2's "New Year's Day" (replaced by Bono's female polar opposite) and five of the six song songs from the Lost In Landscapes album during the hour long set. Holy Roman Empire opened with "Gaper's Delay" and "Guard's Off" from the new disc before jumping into a variety of other material the Metro crowd wasn't quite as familiar with. While closing the set with "Topography," "Your Side" and "Ways To Save Our Lives" from Lost In Landscapes, Emily Schambra was one dropped microphone away from leading the band off stage like Sexual Chocolate in Coming to America. Some of the material touched on was "Action Figures." "Olympus," "The Ace," "Hail Mary," "Superchelsea" and "Winter Eyes."
I hear Emily's voice and I think about the tone of K's Choice lead singer Sarah Bettens being surrounded by a dabbling of punk mixed in with the reminisce of Shai Hulud's drumming courtesty of Tony Tintari. In a witch's caldron of sound and style, I need more from Holy Roman Empire than the six song introduction given on disc. Even still, I encourage anyone to come and check them out at their next two area shows lined up at the Courtyard Café in Urbana (2/9) and the Lemp Arts Center in St. Louis (2/10).