Company of Thieves steal the show in Atlanta

Live review: Company of Thieves / Ben Deignan / Sleeper Agent at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, June 18, 2011

Chicago’s Company of Thieves know how to entertain. On the road with their
sophomore release Running from a Gamble, this outfit also knows how to rock. Leader and happiest-person-on-the-stage Genevieve Schatz puts the E in energy by immediately and excitedly conversing with the crowd. “It’s been way too long since we were here last!” she yelled. The fans agreed. With a voice reminiscent of Bjork, Nina Diaz (Girl in a Coma), and a pinch of Edie Brickell, it succeeds as a powerful instrument.

Finally reaching the stage at around 11:40, the band roared through a loud and tight set, pausing frequently to check on the audience and discuss old times (“Who was at Vinyl the last time we were here?” was answered with several claps and yelps). Playing selections from Gamble as well as their 2009 debut Ordinary Riches (both on Wind-Up Records), crowd faves were clearly “Oscar Wilde,” “Pressure,” and the new and awesome “Death Of Communication.”

Throughout many comings and goings of band members, Schatz is currently joined by bandmates Marc Walloch (guitar), Chris Faller (drums), Marcin Sulewski (bass), and Eitan Bernstein (keys). The five seem to get along famously and that comes out in their music, which is free and soaring. Company of Thieves are gaining attention with this release and have on their resume opening slots for OK Go and The Hold Steady, as well as appearances at Lollapalooza, Live From Daryl’s House, and Last Call With Carson Daly.

Catch the band on the road through the end of August: tour dates.

Kicking off the evening was the Kentucky band Sleeper Agent. These youngsters woke up the crowd and primed them for a high energy show. This six-piece from Bowling Green just came off a performance at SXSW and an opening slot with Cage the Elephant and are showing their younger fans what punk was all about. The show was raw and intense and the kids had a blast. They will soon be the headliners.

The on-deck slot was reserved for Atlantan Ben Deignan, whose passion for his music was flowing over. The charismatic singer was on from start to finish and fans were dancing right along with him. With a powerfully melodic voice, he’s an amalgam of Justin Timberlake, Rob Thomas, and Adam Levine. Furthermore, he displayed the moves and mannerisms of Prince and James Brown while going all Stevie Wonder vocally once in a while. Not bad for a white boy. Still waiting for that big record label break, Deignan has released a CD and a brand new DVD, Keep On Keeping On, which will surely promote his great talent.

Deignan covered Kanye West’s “Stronger” and did not disappoint. Not to be shortchanged, his band is a force to be reckoned with. Nothing short of a powerhouse, these guys could give the Roots and run for their money.

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