Empty Fields: Working on a weekday-- yawn

Dean Fields
at Orbit
Tuesday, November 16

Thanks to work, the necessity of sleep, and attempting to keep interpersonal relations at least a stage away from iceberg, I usually review musical events only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but something in Dean Fields's press got me out of the house last Tuesday.

I wanted to see what exactly someone whose songs have been played on "MTV's Road Rules, Real World, and Sorority Life" would sound like– what exactly is the soundtrack to bitchy blondes wielding cell-phones, anyway? I expected something mechanical and German like Kraftwerk, but what I found was rather run of the mill, the sort of stuff my friend Ray likes to call "Strummy-strummy-yeah-yeah" music.

Orbit on Tuesday is quite a different beast from Orbit on Thursday-Friday-Saturday. Those in attendance seemed to be a mix of hard core Orbiteers and tired folks making up various gatherings of old friends– the kind of thing where some long-lost buddy of yours calls at 9pm and asks you out for a drink to shoot the bull.

Needless to say, those there for Fields's performance seemed to be numbered in the single digits, a fair percentage of which was made up of my little group.

Sporting an acoustic guitar and backed up by an acoustic lead guitar and stand-up bass, Fields did not seem phased by the lackluster showing, but quickly launched into his first number, "Each Every One."

"It's never been colder from here to Carolina / What warms is not the weather in this Miami swelter," Fields began in his rather sweet voice, describing a scene straight out of a sophomore poetry class (Exhibit A: "I've loved you like a stranger, I've missed you like a head cold").

Next up was a song I recognized, figuring that while flipping through the cable I must have once stumbled on "Sorority Life" and been momentarily stopped by the shining colors of their pastel wardrobes long enough to absorb the song. Alas, this was not the case– the song turned out to be a cover of John Waite's "Ain't no sunshine," and though it did have some nice jazzy acoustic lead work on the break, it was fairly innocuous.

Donning a harmonica, Fields et al. launched into "Get Away," which had the principal distinction of using what I believe was a minor chord in the chorus in a distinctly Radiohead fashion (the occasional falsetto was also a telltale sign). The harmonica solo was an all right touch, but let's not fool ourselves here; at this point I was reading the specials at the bar.

Ryan Adams' "New York, New York" got the crowd a little buzzed, and a more rootsy shuffle beat song with some nice country bass took the generally tepid crowd's temperature up to warm, but still, whatever it took to sway the hearts of the night owls at Orbit Tuesday, Fields wasn't sporting it.

Dean Fields