CLARKSVILLE, TN (2/22/13) - Some artists have made a career out of putting on final shows.
When Dispatch played what they said was their last show in 2003, they famously held the largest show in independent music history only to play Madison Square Garden in 2007, tour in 2011, and then announce another tour for 2013.
Jay-Z threw a retirement party at Madison Square Garden in 2003 only to release six more platinum-certified studio albums in the following ten years.
But it would be tough to question the sincerity of Nnaji Singleton and Layne Robertson as they played what was billed as The Marcens’ last show Wednesday, February 20th.
A packed audience at The Coup watched on as they played their most popular songs, Robertson perched on the stage and Singleton working the audience from the ground floor.
But the duo had made it clear that this wasn't a publicity grab or stunt to get more people in the door. While the crowd would have to say goodbye to The Marcens, and most of their songs by the end of the night, Singleton and Robertson explained that they would be coming back in a new, revised form.
Monolith Empire, their next project, is slated to kick off this coming summer with a Michigan recording session bookmarked on either end with a tour heading north and then a tour coming back down south.
Robertson said they will be adding a drummer, lead guitarist, and a bassist to Singleton's vocals and Robertson's guitar.
In one quick year, The Marcens have become one of Clarksville's favorite bands, but Robertson seemed ready to leave that project behind and start this next journey.
"It [The Marcens] helped us grow as musicians; it helped us mature. I realized what works for us and what doesn't," says Robertson.
What works for The Marcens was on full display Wednesday. Singleton sings with such powerful nonchalance, extending lyrics over a dizzying rollercoaster of notes, punctuating words by pushing his voice to an exasperated, almost broken end.
And Robertson's guitar backing compliments Singleton's choral prowess. He's fine strumming in the background creates a foundation Singleton can build his voice from.
But the current lineup also leaves the listener wondering how a full band could better them. What would it sound like if a lead guitar player could shoulder some of the spotlight and give Singleton a rest? How much better would Robertson's compositions be if they were rounded out with bass and percussion? How much more powerful would Singleton's exposed voice be if it was exposed only after a full band built up the song?
When Singleton goes to his most vulnerable point on the crowd-favorite, "Oceans," belting out "your body is on fire," he's able to pull every listener in, both with the intimacy of his lyrics and his amazing vocal intensity. But Singleton stays that exposed for the whole song - and, to reiterate, how much more drawn in would the listener be if that exposure came after a full band's build up?
And with more members on stage they'll be free from the burden of holding indie rock guitar parts and bluesy singing together with just two people.
Singleton already takes the liberty to move around at a show, interacting with fans, but he recognizes that a full band will give Robertson more room to experiment.
"It let's Layne relax and move and do more s***," says Singleton."He has to stick to the script now."
"Our stage presence is going to go through the roof," says Robertson. " I'm going to be kicking mics and Nnaji and stuff. It'll give me much more freedom to move around."
We should all be excited to see the two young musicians get that freedom. Robertson, 20, and Singleton, 19, established an impressive following as teenagers – you’d do yourself a favor to pay attention to what they produce in their twenties.
Editors Note: L.B. Black grew up in a place called Mukilteo, lives in Clarksville, and really wishes you would listen to more Modest Mouse.
Sugg Street Post
Written by L.B. Black
Photos by L.B. Black