I Nine's almost to 10

otaylor@thestate.comOctober 29, 2007 

I Nine’s homecoming last Saturday at Headliners was splendidly unrestrained, tense and riveting.

The band of Orangeburg natives has been working on its major-label debut for, if you’re a follower, what has seemed like a decade. In an interview with vocalist Carmen Keigans and guitarist/cellist Brian Gibson last week, I was told the album will be released early next year.

I was also told that Clive Davis, the chairman of the RCA Music Group, which owns I Nine’s label, J Records, is ecstatic about the band’s potential.

And why not? I Nine exudes confidence and lip-smacking incandescence. Keigans, who looked angelic in her long, flowing white dress, shoelessly twirled to the band’s romantic, swirling movements.

Keigans’ voice is angelic, as well, but what makes her voice remarkable is how forcibly large it can get. Emotion isn’t always conveyed in the quiet moments of songs, as witnessed by the Keigans’ on-pitch yells when the band was at its heaviest.

It was surprising, though, that more people weren’t in attendance. I Nine’s first single, "Seven Days of Lonely," was getting impressive spins on WNOK-FM 104.7. (If one were to try and guess why the crowd wasn’t so full, one might suggest USC’s loss to Vanderbilt had something to do with it.)

"Seven Days" is more magnetic live than on the radio; "Beckon" has an intense gravitational pull; and "Alive" is dramatically insistent as is "Change Nothing."

One thing was certainly gleaned from the performance: I Nine has impeccable songwriting tastes. But, I wonder, will pop radio outside of South Carolina be as enamored as I am with the band’s sound?

The show was opened by Closer, which is releasing an iTunes album, "take these scars. make them bleed." on Nov. 13. The band’s fluidity is impressive, as their songs reverberate with a glare from the tip of disaster. (There will be a listening party at Local’s on Nov. 13 and a show at New Brookland Tavern Nov. 15.)

Joal Rush, a singer/songwriter who pleasantly rocks, also played.

Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.

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