Ft. Worth, TX, The Grotto, 04/27/2013
When one hears the name Sean Beavan, it’s easy to conjure up memories of his work with Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson among many other successful acts over the past 20 years. However, that’s the Sean Beavan behind the scenes turning knobs and perfecting other artists’ work. The Sean Beavan in 8mm is an entirely different beast who has, along with his partner in life and music, Juliette, created something musically superior to almost anything else heard on the radio or in music videos and they’ve accomplished it as an independent act.
Together, the beautiful and talented duo embarked on a tour of southern U.S.A. after their fans had successfully funded a Kickstarter project for them. That money was put to good use as showcased by the 8mm’s stop at the Grotto in Ft. Worth, Texas on April 27. Despite the Grotto being an eyesore on the outside, it’s quite pleasant inside with an enjoyable atmosphere and hipster feng shui. It had been quite a few years since 8mm last graced north Texas with a live performance, but new fans were just as eager as the older fans to see the Beavans and company in action.
To kick off the show was Ft. Worth’s own Royal Savages. Don’t let the name fool you; they’re not savagely at all, but they do know how to rock. Much like 8mm, the Royal Savages have a potent one-two punch of male and female vocals with Addison White and Lauren Moore. The guitar work is superb and the vocals are pristine. Mix that with a solid drummer and you have a decent indie rock band on the rise. They’re young with some growing pains to go through still; however, their potential is limitless right now. Following up was We the Sea Lions, another Ft. Worth based band that focuses more on heavier rock elements. It was a crowded stage with all the instruments, but having a live keyboardist/synth player really brought out the band’s sound. Both of these local openers were quite impressive and do not fall under the category of “throwaway opening acts.” With some maturity and experience, these bands have promising futures.
After the local bright spots was 8mm. The bedazzling and glitter-laden Juliette took the stage to join her man in black, Sean. Together, with the help of their drummer Beak Wing and touring bassist Chris Price, they jumped right into “Kin,” which boasts some heavy hitting bass guitar and the appropriate amount of tambourine. The sultry, blues synth/rock blasted through the Grotto captivating the 8mm faithful. But the heads truly began to bob and hips really started to sway as the power and soul of Juliette’s voice penetrated everyone’s eardrums. After the heavier synth-based “Around the Sun” finished, the true talents of Sean shined through during “Weight of You.” The track is dark, bluesy, and gritty in all the ways that would make Johnny Cash proud. Sean’s voice is often underappreciated because it’s usually competing with his guitar work as well as Juliette’s vocals. However, this track utilizes all those elements splendidly.
8mm’s set was heavily laced with recent material as six of the 11 tracks played this night were from Between the Devil and Two Black Hearts
. This may seem like an overdose to some, but it was quite the contrary as the tracks had such a different personality live as opposed to the recorded versions. This is not stated to undermine the originals, but the true heart and essence of 8mm’s music is truly exposed when showcased live. Not only that, but even older tracks such as “Deep Blue You” and “Stunning” just had more life and sincerity to them. The best song of the night was “You Brought the Fire,” for while 8mm had already embodied the elements of soul and love, this track captured the aspect of sexuality. Juliette’s serpentine-esque dancing up against the back of Sean set the night on fire. Even a police officer who was monitoring the streets outside came into the venue for a moment to see what loveliness was onstage during his patrol.
After the 10 song set had ended, the enthusiastic and mesmerized crowd would not let the Beavans offstage without just one more song. Beak Wing and Chris Price exited the stage, leaving just Juliette and Sean to play that final song. Immediately, the fans in attendance cheered when they recognized Sean singing and playing “Don’t You Want Me?” by The Human League. As Juliette joined in for the duet, so did the audience, creating the loudest and most personal moment of the night between the crowd and the band.
After a scintillating and successful performance, Juliette abandoned the stage to meet a flock of 8mm fans anxious to talk with her. Her hugs stained them with glitter, causing them to leave the venue sparkling with a smile. All in all, the night yielded a damn good show that 8mm fans hope they won’t have to wait another few years to see.
Grant V. Ziegler (GVZ)