Monday, December 17, 2007

Mardo at the Key Club , Los Angeles CA

If these guys were a joke band they would be fantastic. I think that's why I liked them at first, but three songs in I realized they were fucking serious. They are a would be a hipster version of Spinal Tap if Spinal Tap was a real band. What's worse is they play really really really really really boring repetitive songs that go absolutely no where. The most entertaining thing about this band was the denim unitard Aaron Mardo was wearing. But that's only because I saw my step mother wearing one in 1988 and she looked so dumb; I still to this day laugh about it. They even managed to turn the Thurman, one of the sexiest instruments in rock n' roll (see jon spencer)... gay. Mardo did so many ass maneuvers toward the Thurman I swear the antenna shrunk. If you want to see what's wrong with "indie rock" aesthetic and creativity in music today please go see this band. It will become apparent to you immediately.

Monday, November 5, 2007

WJ and the Sweet Sacrifice at the Cork Screw Jersey City NJ

It's not rare to come across a band that is so excited to release their debut album they can't keep themselves from squeezing the topic as a non sequitur into any conversation. It's a common form of tourettes that overcomes anyone that has spent countless hours holed up in a tiny windowless box picking over abstract aural detail that only the insane could appreciate. Well, enter WJ & the Sweet Sacrifice. The difference is these guys (and gal) don't want you to simply hear it, they want you to enjoy it. In an age of aloof hipsters ripping off whatever scene is hot at the moment just to get an audience, it's rare to find a band that truly wants you to experience their music. I have never played with a band that gets so much satisfaction and appreciation out of an audience connecting with their set. The setup is that of a quintessential rock band with an alt-country twist. The rhythm section is Mike Mobius and Neil McAneny and they hold it down back beat style. Billy Ferrara Fronts the band with a throaty vocal style and presence that reminisces back to early Mike Ness and there are not many things that are better to watch than Erin Conners slinging guitar riffs over the entire mess. Beware! She's cute as a button but tougher than a bag full of angry rattle snakes. All together the sound is pretty unique and throughout the set hints of the Lies Lies Lies era Gn'R with Kings of Leon and Social D. can be faintly heard. These guys wear their hearts on their sleeves and they have a new LP out on Moonlight Mile Records.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boogdish at 1919 Hemphill San Antonio, TX

Michael Barton is the man behind Boogdish and the bands only member. Its a combination of samples that Barton makes himself and distorted baselines played by Barton. All the while Barton crunes/speaks amusing lyrics about day to day life in the bizarre world of Boogdish. It reminds me of a 70/30% cross of Weird Al and the Minutemen. Yeah, I didn't think it was possible either. But I was there. It's possible. The pretty large crowd was amused and seemed genuinely entertained his entire 35 minute set. For me, this is an accomplishment for the first act at 8:30 pm on a Wednesday in a seedy Ghetto neighborhood of Fort Worth, TX. About 15 minutes into the performance a string of white mucous appeared creeping out of Barton's nose. It caught most of the audiences attention and added a sort of tension to the set because Barton seemed oblivious to it. That is until the last song when the booger stretched about six inches from his nose and latched itself to the microphone. In the final moments of his set the most brilliant thing happened. Barton sang just enough verses about the fate of his snooty excretion to let the audience know the joke was on them. This set was truly entertaining, we just prayed the club had another microphone.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jucifer at Mooch and Burn VFW Tulsa OK

We traveled from NYC to Los Angeles to Tulsa OK in under 26 hours to play the first show of our latest tour with Jucifer. The Venue was switched last minute and when we pulled up to the enormous neon VFW sign we all looked at each other and sighed a little bit. Not that we have anything against Veterans of Foreign Wars we have just had really horrible experiences playing for them. This night turned out to be just the opposite and we milked it by spending six hours in the VFW bar becoming acquainted with Tulsa's war heroes. The girls set the room on fire that night and just before we went downstairs to watch Jucifer play we did Wild Turkey shots from glasses that were so dirty and full of bugs I think the entire room gagged a little bit after we tipped our elbows.
Any way, did I mention the venue was changed? Yes. But I didn't mention that Van Halen and a gun convention were in town that evening. Two VERY popular attractions in Tulsa. We watched Jucifer play to a crowd of three... that would be us. Needless to say, they killed it. It was the most impressive and heartfelt show I have seen since, well, I can remember. They are so in the moment and part of the music the entire performance that it's hard to imagine them as normal people that... let's say... brush their teeth or eat sandwiches. That is, until they get off the stage and are three (including Brent their lighting/sound/roadie/sidekick) of the kindest most considerate people you could ever interact with. That night (to our horror) we played after Jucifer with just Amber, Ed, and Brent standing there watching us in the empty VFW hall. Jucifer is truly one of the last of their kind. An endangered species that honestly and earnestly holds fast to the original punk rock ideal. They live to play and play to live. It's as simple as that.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Holloys at The Knitting Factory Los Angeles

Holloys is the brainchild of Jim Brown (Bluebirds) . Jon Gonnelli (Rye Coalition) on guitar and Jose' Medeles (The Breeders) on the skins give the music a soulful pop sensibility, but the vibe is in the vein of Peter Gabriel, post Genesis. The songs are built around the meandering rhythm and the beat drives throughout the entire set. The music sort of has a primal feel to it. I imagine this is because Jose' has no snare drum and plays two floor toms and a bass drum with sparing use of the cymbals. Gonnelli accents the songs with leads that follow and help emote the rhythm. While all this primordial rhythm is being stewed Jim scurries around the stage playing leads on Bass, while injecting samples, and spurting out sparse lyrics that give the music a personality that the listener can connect with. With the the truly creative use of a classic 3pc. setup and no computers, Holloys are like an indie rock version of Battles. Yeah that's right I said it...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Curtains of Night Live at Ringside Durham, NC

First off I have to say something about the Ringside in Durham. This club was sick... or actually might make you sick. It really depends on what side of the rusty nail you're on. The show was on the 3rd floor of the club. It took about 45 minutes in sweltering Durham heat for all the bands to wind their way up the dingy steps to the stage area. Once we were all up and settled and done panting I was introduced to Nora singer and guitar player for The Curtains of Night. I think I first noticed all 90 pounds of her carrying a Marshall half stack up the stairs alone. I thought hmmm that's kind of nuts... then TCON hit the stage and it all became quite clear. Nora plays a sick array of homemade stomp boxes and amp heads through speaker cabs that go on forever. Her setup looks like a science experiment and sounds like the kind of thunder that makes you want to cry a little. The most amazing thing about this band is the sound they get for a two piece. Lauren kills on the drums and at times seems like she is a dirty cop trying to beat some sort of confession out of them. Actually that is the perfect metaphor for these guys... good cop/bad cop. Nora screams her head off and lulls you into a stoner-rock induced haze with the sickest guitar tone I have ever heard while Lauren pounds the drums into submission.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

King Crab (Live at The Scene, Los Angeles CA)

These guys are a mystery. A white rap duet composed of two blond blue eyed fellas that imbue the California dude. Tonight, they have "disguised" themselves in cheesy Elvis aviators, trucker caps with stuffed rats stapled to them, and cheep terry cloth robes. Despite the sinking feeling I got when I saw them on the bill the performance was really entertaining. They made rapping on an empty stage to a group of about 20 people seem easy and kept it entertaining. It took a song or two for them to win over the entire crowd but when they busted out with shake that ass, shake that pussy, lookin' at you I like your moves, just about everyone in the bar was dancing. These guys are entertaining but, the thing is, it's hard to tell if they are trying to put one over on everyone. It leaves you at times scratching your head wondering if Jamie Kennedy is going to bust out of some side room with velour sweatsuit on. The set lasted for about 40 minutes and it seemed like everyone had enough about a half hour into the performance. So be warned all you quasi-jokester-white-boy-rap-duets that sing about genitalia. The half life for audience attention is 15 minutes. If you get thirty, be proud.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sikamor Rooney (Live at Asbury Lanes, NJ)

Sikamor Rooney is one of those bands that has such an eclectic mash of personalities it could be destined to either blow up like a Molotov cocktail or be the type of concoction that makes you kinda drunk and want to get all sexy with a large woman. Thankfully they are the latter... but the chic is really hot... and you're not wasted you're high. They play upbeat tunes that are reminiscent of early... very early... Blur with a stripped down, back beat style, rhythm section. Bradley York plays catchy guitar and sings clever lyrics about girls, while Dave Rosen (Parlor Mob) accents the songs and plays guitar leads that make you kind of wonder what would happen if you spent less time looking at Internet porn.

Ana Lola Roman (live at Luna Lounge, Brooklyn NY)

For me Ana Lola has been an enigma since she first appeared on myspace more than a year ago. I was originally drawn to her left of center approach to song writing and abstract lyrical style. Live, Ana Lola plays as a three piece. Her piano and vocals take the lead to a laid back rhythm section. This evening Ana sat at her piano and sang but the set still had theatrical feel to it. She defies comparison as a song writer but the songs are so unexpected, original, and have such a genuine quality that it is nearly impossible to look away while she is performing. You can find Ana Lola Roman's records on the Family Business which is a testament to her originality.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Glass Trees (Live at 58 Coles St., Jersey City NJ)

Glass Trees is the brainchild of Shaun Towey. This evening I found him leaning against a lamp-post outside the gallery staring down the street with an introspective gaze. I would later realize this is the perfect metaphor for his approach towards music and his performance on stage. The show was so laid back and the band was so comfortable but all the while there was a subtle electricity from Towey's delivery. Once the audience connected with that undercurrent the entire room had his undivided attention. It was really uncanny and something really cool to have witnessed. The band was a surly crew of misfits that Towey must have handpicked. They fit the bill perfectly and brought real musicianship into the fold. For me the songs are somewhere between Wilco and Ween with moments of unique ingenuity that gives the music its own "thing". I imagine this is what Brian Wilson would have sounded like had he been raised in upstate NY instead of Hawthorne, CA.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Flat Marry Road (Live Manhattan Room, Philadelphia)

It is usually a bad sign when you roll up to a club and one of the opening bands is scribbling their lyrics into a napkin on top of a pay-phone outside. But somehow this worked like magic for Flat Mary Road. They appeared to be a 5 or at times a 6 piece fronted by a spindly Steve Teare who's style on and off stage is reminiscent of Stuart Lupton pre-mental-breakdown. Papa's vocals are accented by Chrissy Doughty's harmonies which give the music an occasional airy quality that makes you want to smile. The set was sincere and at times endearingly shambolic which is to be expected from a new band. These guys were such a pleasant surprise and worked together so well I am sure shows 4 and 5 will be amazing... and shows 100 and 101 will be an unforgettable experience.

The Press (live at Lit Lounge, NYC)

The Press are 4 of the most laid back unassuming guys you will ever meet. I had no clue any of them were in the band... that is until they hit the stage in leopard print tunics. Ok . ok. You might say to yourself? Gimmicks!! Maybe. maybe. But in this case it is pulled it off to perfection and seems completely at home with the music, which is so catchy and so original but at the same time so familiar. The music goes between novelette arctic monkey like verses that sing the kind of story you wind up humming in your head all day to four piece harmonies that are reminiscent of of something that might come from the Ace Fu catalog of bands. These guys have toured the US and Australia on their own and their live show echos it. The Press is truly a unique band that has managed to write anti-pop songs with a hauntingly familiar sound in that "I have never heard anything like this before... I think" way.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Gay Blades (Live at the Manhattan Room, Philly, PA)

These guys were on fire from the minute they showed up at the venue. Or at least when I got there 5 hours before they hit the stage. Puppy Mills pulverizes the drums while playing the straight man to front man Clark Westfield's manic fits. Fits that occasionally force the songs to a screeching halt so he can shine the spotlight on unsuspecting audience members. The Gay Blades are a two piece guitar rock outfit with a pop sensibility that has just enough of a fresh edge to let you feel like you are witnessing a huge huge secret. They have done what very few bands can. They have successfully married the vulnerability that indie rock had long ago with a current rock aesthetic. This is one of the best live shows this author has seen in a long time.