Lab Partners - Live Review
Playback St. Louis

04/4/03, The Hi-Pointe
by Laura Hamlett
We were tired. This was our third event of the night, and the band hadn't given the doorman its list. Lucky for us, he was understanding, and cheerfully headed upstairs to fetch a member of the band. We told him who we were; he pronounced us, "Chill." Entry granted.

Upstairs, we expected the Floating City but found Tone Rodent, which has a droning undertone that hurt my ears, making it hard to render proper judgment. Earplugs firmly in place, we sat at the bar and we drank.

The crowd was smaller than it should have been, given that it was a Friday night at the Hi-Pointe, and given the caliber of the musicians. The fact that they're a relatively unknown band surely played a factor, as did the fact that one of the opening acts - one of the hotter ones on the St. Louis circuit right now - had canceled. It's a shame, too, because more people deserved to have seen what we saw.

Lab Partners - a foursome from Dayton, Ohio - took the stage amid heavy smoke from the smoke machine. Swirling lights from onstage and off made for an eerie, closed-in feel. Keyboardist Amy Smith, serious and unsmiling, led in with a ghostlike sequencer before guitarist/vocalist Mike Smith played a bleak, enhanced guitar to kick off the first song. This was dreamy indie rock at its best.

Above us, the ceiling dripped plaster from a cavernous hole, but it all seemed part of the effects. Light played across our faces as Lab Partners played, no silence in between songs, no idle chatter.

Midset they threw a song at us that began fret-heavy with a solid beat; for an unknown song, it sounded remarkably classic. The next offering had a melodic, airy keyboard sound
that almost resembled a lighthouse. Smith's guitar very nearly screeched to end the song. For their final number, Lab Partners' music was encompassing and soothing, the perfect song on which to end an evening. You missed the show, but it's not too late to discover the band.