This last Friday I caught Bitter Sweet at the Triple Door. I first heard the band up on Zune Arts, which if you haven't seen yet you should totally check out - there are a lot of cool animations up there. Bitter Sweet's debut album, The Mating Game, is really solid; varied, yet cohesive. I wasn't surprised at all when I heard that one of the Bitter Sweet duo was also one of the founding members of Supreme Beings of Leisure. There's a lot of similarities in the grand instrumentation and the quality of the vocals (although it's a different singer).
Anyway, when I spotted the poster that said Bitter Sweet would be at the Triple Door, I was pretty excited. The Triple Door is a great venue: super classy with excellent food. It's a great place to go if you're really interested in listening and won't mind not being able to dance. Bitter Sweet has a lot of funk in them, so they didn't really fit into that "sit and listen" bucket most of the time, but I was busy munching on tasty schezwan green beans so I didn't really mind.
I had a good time at the show, but I have to say that Bitter Sweet is a lot better in the studio. The actual band is only two people. This performance had six people. The actual required instrumentation of most of their songs is more on the order of ten or more. It's hard to get into a performance where almost half of what you're hearing is prerecorded. Which you would think would keep the integrity of the songs up to the quality of the studio recordings, but it didn't. The show had a very rough start with the levels being way off and the tempo being rushed. They found their stride a couple songs in, but it never quite had the impact of their fine tuned studio recordings. You may just think I'm a stickler for production, but generally I actually prefer the grit of live performances. I spent a lot of the show watching the added musicians to try and figure out what they were actually contributing to what I was hearing. I never did figure that out, partially because the show was just so darn short. Bitter Sweet really needs to cough up another album to fill out their sets. I may sound pretty critical of the performance here, but I was happy to support the band and I'd snatch up any second album in a heartbeat.
Apparently I would have been better off never having heard that debut album before coming to the show. A friend that we (the already initiated) invited to the show had never heard the band before. And she promptly bought the album the next day. So if you had never heard how good the band was in the studio, apparently that show rocked.