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Live Photos and Review: Orpheum Bell at the Ark

Local band Orpheum Bell played at the Ark last Saturday and received the first standing ovation I’ve seen there. Their set had a strong theme, some singular style they’ve assembled from bluegrass, gypsy, jazz, waltz, country and rock and some genre that might end with the word ‘-noire’. They are definitely a skilled band, with strong rhythm, an always changing set of instruments, and an uncanny ability to play many instruments together on stage. This should summarize things, and I’m usually one to dismiss appearances and focus on music, but this band’s aesthetic appeal was so tasteful and consistently surprising that it added something to the experience; every time I put my camera to rest came a new reason to use it. This, of course, in reference to something more meaningful than their spiffy suits, vests and dresses. I counted no less than 28 instruments over the course of the show, many of them antiques. There were enough like a Romanian horn violin, the skull of some carnivorous animal serving as percussion, and a strange trumpet I can’t even name played through a bowl of water, that each song usually featured a few new musical elements.

I shouldn’t forget the haunting whistling of violinist Henrik Karapetyan, or the Tom Wait’s inspired vocals of band leader Aaron Klein, or multi-instrumentalist Katie Lee’s haunting singing, that brings the instrument count up to 31. I always seem to write glowing reviews of bands I’ve seen, but this local band definitely deserves it too.