Saturday, June 25, 2011
Concert review: Ishi plays at Trees with new female vocalist Becky Middleton
If they can re-create the magic of former frontwoman Taylor Rea, the band will survive.
It was the group’s second show since losing guitarist Rob Bastien and vocalist Taylor Rea, and was the first featuring a replacement female vocalist. Going with the risky but delightfully intriguing plan of rotating female vocalists to fill Rea's role, Ishi featured Dallas singer/songwriter Becky Middleton on stage Friday night.
So much has already been written about the not-so-amicable change in personnel and the uncertain future of Ishi, but let’s not forget, it is still incredibly early in the new life of the reincarnated group. And from the sounds of it, frontman John T. Mudd has no intention of giving up on the band that at this time last year had practically the whole Dallas music scene in the palms of its hands. Recreating the same chemistry and energy which existed with Bastien and Rea isn't impossible, but it takes time to form. And without that same brilliant sexual energy, Ishi shows will never be the quite the same.
On Friday night, musically speaking, Ishi was as good as I’ve ever heard them. New guitarist Rocky Ottley seems like a natural fit on guitar, taking the stage with the same charisma he honed as lead singer of Backside Pick. Middleton did more than hold her own on vocals. In fact, her cover of “Walk Like An Egyptian” might have been the highlight of the evening.
But for all their technical triumphs, it’s hard not to notice that there is just something missing. And whether or not Ishi gets it back – with Middleton or someone else – will determine the fate of this band.