Show Review

The Features

Live @ The Basement

Brian Ahnmark
Tennessee quartet The Features have established a solid resume three albums deep, their catalog rife with tidy rock gems. Hints of British invasion mix with New Wave flavor and a modern edge. True to their roots, The Features infuse their songs with a polite, southern-gentlemanly precision. But manners get swept off the table when these boys take the stage, their unhinged delivery transforming tunes into anthems.

On Sunday, Nov. 13 at The Basement, even the band's unassuming entrance set up a brilliant shock-and-awe. Upon meandering onto the stage, frontman/guitarist Matt Pelham and bassist Roger Dabbs hoisted their respective instruments and tuned. Keyboardist Mark Bond checked his settings, while drummer Rollum Haas tinkered with mic placements and tom sounds. The soft-spoken Pelham shrugged and mouthed something to the soundman.

Then blast-off commenced.

Haas set the violent tone, snapping a stick within the first five seconds of raucous opener “Circus.” It wasn't long before Pelham was standing atop his amplifier, slashing chords and screaming bloody murder. A breathless 15-song set followed with nary a pause for banter, culling material from all three of the band's records. The evening was a showcase for Haas, whose relentless assault on the kit injected each song with a frenetic energy. He also flashed some surprising technical flourishes; on “Another One” from The Features' excellent 2011 LP Wilderness, Haas' bridge breakdown impossibly intertwined the snare-led rhythm with a tom-led fill (“Weren't those parts tracked separately in the studio?” asked The Naked Ear, astonished).

Highlight “The Temporary Blues” inspired a cathartic singalong of its massive hook. The band trial-tested a new tune, “This Disorder,” with a funk bass foundation and a chiming guitar/keyboard duel – plus a rare Pelham guitar lead. Back-to-back bruisers “Big Mama Gonna Whip Us Good” and “Lions” kept the frenzy fed through the latter half of the show.

The evening climaxed with Pelham leaping atop the monitors at the front of the stage, up close and personal with the front row. When the monitor buckled, Pelham lost his balance and took a nasty spill backwards, knocking his mic stand to the ground in the process. As the crowd held its breath, Pelham rolled and bounded to his feet in a single motion, then unleashed a savage roar. He moved to the backing mic and continued howling, then stared blankly at the audience as a flailing Haas thrashed the concert to its close.

It was a fitting juxtaposition of utter calm within sheer chaos – not unlike the band and its creations.

Columbus' own Yellow Light Maybe opened the night with a crowd-pleasing set of earnest, straight-forward rock (and amusingly disclosed their home address, inviting everyone in attendance to join the band for an after-party at their apartment).