Babyland | Becky Sharp | Bile | Blue Mountain | Bride Stripped Bare | Brutal Juice | Butterflies | Capsize 7 | Chainsaw Kittens | Cocteau Twins | Dismemberment Plan | Fig Dish | Fuzzy | Gam | Gas Huffer | Glazed Baby | Clay Harper | Ho-Hum | I Mother Earth | Ivy | The Jesus Lizard | Chris Knox | Lazy | The Lizardmen | Local H | Loop Guru | Low | Lustre | Marilyn Manson | Mercury Rev | Orange Hat | Red Aunts | Season To Risk | Seeley | Semisonic | Shiner | Squirrel Nut Zippers | Swimming Pool Q's | The Technical Jed | To Live and Shave in L.A. | The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black | The Wallmen | Yatsura | Yum Yum |
I missed Babyland's last engagement in Atlanta because it coincided with a rare LMNOP concert. As a result, a friend and I ended up driving to Augusta, Georgia to hear Babyland play at a small yet incredibly hip club called the Capri Cinema. Watching the band do their sound check, I began to wonder if these two guys were going to be able to pull off their recorded sound in concert. After the first song of the set, however, it became obvious that when Babyland play they mean BUSINESS. Assaulting the audience with the harshest rhythms I've ever heard, Babyland played like holy hell. And their theatrics were GREAT. One fellow pounds away on large iron drum things while the other guy spews out hatred and anxiety like you've never heard before. During one of the show's many peaks, the drummer pulled out a power saw and began "playing" one of the metal drums...attacking it in time to the music and throwing sparks all over the audience in the process. The audience (who seemed relatively unfamiliar with the band) ate it up. In fact, at the end of the show, they HAD to eat it up because the band tossed a large drum filled with fire and gasoline right out into the crowd almost setting one person on fire in the process. Dangerous? Yes. It's the same sort of assaultive energy that made me love this band's recorded work. After watching a blistering and mind-blowing show of some of the best industrial punk ever made, I wasn't too surprised to find that the two guys in the band are intelligent, friendly fellows that you could take home to meet your mother. This band is a MUST SEE for sure!
Great live band! Hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Becky Sharp rocks out like a mother! The band's sharp-edged, hard-punching, semi-psychedlic rock/pop music is addictive and unsettling...and in concert, it even packs a bigger punch than on their recordings. I was already impressed with the band's latest CD on MCA (which I've heard cost a whopping $1,000 to record), but the live show really won me over. The drummer is a powerhouse of energy, smashing and crashing away while the other three members milk every ounce out of their instruments. The lead singer's facial expressions are obtuse and odd, to say the least...and the lead guitarist jumps, spins, whrils, and goes completely out of orbit both physically and sonically. In addition to playing a tight and impressive batch of songs, the fellows in-between-song chatter was funny as hell. To top off their show, the band invited the entire audience up on stage for their last song...and half of the audience took them up on their offer! Sometimes reminiscent of St. Johnny, this is a band that's on their way straight UP.
Bile is one fucked up looking and sounding band. I've been playing the band's new CD (Tekno Whore) and really getting a blast out of the wild soundscape these guys create. I caught their live show last year, and was pretty much blown away by it. Seeing the band's latest show was almost like seeing another band. A different fellow was singing, they had dropped a couple of folks (including the girl with the whip), and the bass player (R. H. Bear) has now switched from playing keyboard bass to string bass. Bile's current stage show is an exercise in sensory overload. They look like they came straight from Hell, and they use smoke, high-tech lighting, and lots of strobe lights...all of which just help to heighten the intensity of the music. I was very surprised at the poor turnout for this show...especially when folks will literally peel each other's skin off to get near bands like Skinny Puppy or Nine Inch Nails! Bile is every big as good as EITHER of those bands (actually better in my opinion), but they just aren't considered "ultra cool" or "ultra hip" right now...which is even MORE reason to go out and support these folks. Of course, R. H. Bear was amazing to watch. He's big...he's hairy...and this time he had his ass COMPLETELY hanging out of his pants, and he pumped like a barnhole during the ENTIRE show. Hot, hot, hot, HOT!!! Actually ALL the fellows in the band are excellent showmen, and I left this concert being even more impressed with Bile than ever before. This is a MUST SEE live band for sure. Get in on the ground floor and support these people. They DESERVE it!
Blue Mountain is one of the most unpretentious bands I've ever seen. This three-piece played Atlanta recently and had a nearly-packed club SCREAMING for more...which is amazing, because I got the feeling most folks weren't even familiar with them prior to seeing the show. The band's music is similar in some respects to Neil Young, yet they possess an urgency and vibrancy that is certainly all their own. The drummer kicks ass in a big way, the female bass player is one of the best I've ever heard, the the singer/guitarist seems incredibly genuine and sincere. Blue Mountain is a band that has the potential to be big, big, BIG...because the music they play seems to strike a chord in many folks' hearts. Of course, songs are the key factor here. The band's songs are excellent, reminding me in many ways of Richard Thompson (I wonder if they've ever heard that before?). Highly recommended, for sure...
I was fairly certain that I would never in my life step into a Hard Rock Cafe...until I heard that the band Bride Stripped Bare was playing there. The restaurant felt rather odd and uncomfortable, but once the band started playing things changed. Bride Stripped Bare play a peculiar brand of rock music that can best be described as a mix of mid-period Talking Heads and Spiritualized. The band has plenty of great tunes, but what I liked best about the show was their tendency to play really, REALLY loud and then lower the volume to a whisper. Between the bass player and the lead singer, there were enough broken strings on the stage to hang your mother-in-law. The band also possessed a certain tension and urgency that are unusual in live bands (maybe that explains the broken strings?). The audience seemed to be eating it up. Hopefully next time they'll be playing at a place where I can afford to buy a beer (hyuk hyuk). A really cool band that really puts out.
Brutal Juice on major label, but play in Atlanta recently at very small local club. Much like band latest CD, but even much like better live show. Though not many people in audience, band still play with much enthusiasm and power. Favorite thing about band is how all musician seem very much in synch with each other. Bass player particularly good performer, continuing to throb and pulse with hypnotic drum beating. Lead singer have funny elastic face, what go in all direction at once. Music vary in many ways, sometime psychedelic, other time harsh and noisy. Though this definitely not BIG night for band (Thursday show with small turnout), it big night for those in audience. Brutal Juice is band with funny reaction, for reaction half fun of favorite NOODLE.
Butterflies are one of my favorite Atlanta bands ever. Why? Mainly because these folks' odd, obtuse pop music doesn't fit in with anything else I've heard come out of my hown town. The band's debut CD is certainly one of my top favorite discs ever put out by an Atlanta band. I caught the band live recently at a show that was virtually unannounced. Butterflies set up their practice P.A. in the back of a local hipster restaurant/hangout place and played their balls off. The band admitted after the show that this particular performance was more or less a practice show before they headed up to play at the CMJ conference. This particular show really did come off more like a practice session than a practiced performance mainly because there was so much space in between many of the songs. Still, when the band got cranked up and going, they absolutely KICKED ASS. In fact, if there is any Atlanta group right now that I feel has real potential, it most certainly is Butterflies... They have a new 7" vinyl single and full-length CD coming out Fall 1996...
Chapel Hill's Capsize 7 came through Atlanta recently and played a blistering, high-energy set of music that knocked my trousers clean off. These four guys play together like a well-oiled machine, throwing skewed, harsh, jagged noise at the audience with style, grace, and precision. Not only is the band tight, tight, TIGHT...they all four also are in motion almost constantly. The drummer is nothing short of incredible, playing so hard and furious that most of the time it's hard to tell the difference between his drumsticks and his dreadlocks. I wish the band had been headlining, because I got the impression that the majority of the audience just wanted to see the main acts...and as a result Capsize 7 did not get NEAR the appreciation they deserved for putting on such a knockout performance. This is a live band that certainly puts out more than your average band. Can't wait to see 'em again. These guys ROCK OUT!
Take the very best of early sixties psychedelic pop from England and Australia, update it, throw it in Oklahoma and what have you got? Answer: The Chainsaw Kittens. Though this band has been around for some time now, they've been slow to catch on. With the release of their latest self-titled CD on Scratchie Records, the band has now achieved incredible success. "What?" you may ask. "I've never even HEARD of them!" Maybe so...but there are many more ways to measure success than simply in numbers and dollars. This band is a huge success based simply on their songs. At their recent concert in Atlanta, the Kittens delivered some of the best rip-roaring pop music to be had on the planet today. With the addition of a keyboard player in their line-up, they sound fuller than ever. While other bands plod around the country making loud noise and posing like a bunch of idiots, the Chainsaw Kittens are a refreshing change of pace. That their main concern is accurately reproducing their music in concert is no surprise. I simply cannot get this band's songs out of my head. They played everything I wanted to hear. The most particularly overwhelming tunes were "Dorothy's Last Fling" (KILLER!!!), "Waltz Across Debris" (my favorite song of 1996), and "Tongue Trick." I forgot to mention that the Kittens' lyrics are some of the most pensive and thought-provoking I've ever heard. I am completely apeshit over this band...can you tell? To put it simply...the Chainsaw Kittens are one of the best bands I have ever heard in my life.
The Cocteau Twins are on the the most influential bands of the past couple of decades. This band's trademark sound of trance-like, hypnotic pop music sounds unlike anyone else. And unlike many of their diehard fans, I feel that the recordings the band has produced over the past couple of years have been their strongest work to date. Never seeing the band play live before, I wasn't sure what to expect. At the Cocteau Twins' Atlanta show, the band very accurately reproduced their recorded sound in concert...and the lighting fit the mood of the music perfectly. I would've actually had a grand time at this concert...except for some MAJOR flaws. So many tickets were sold for this show that the auditorium literally stank from the stench of too many people. It was so crowded that it was hard to even breathe. While trying to relax and enjoy hypnotic, beautiful pop music, this is certainly not acceptable. Also, for some reason, fans of the Cocteau Twins tend to be arrogant, phony shitheads. There were so many pretentious people swarming around in the overfilled auditorium that it was enough to make you vomit. I'm not saying that this concert was bad. But I do feel that considering all circumstances surrounding this show, it was impossible to enjoy the music because there were too many obstacles. If I could catch this band in a smaller venue (where I could breathe), I would probably come away totally satisfied. As it was, I ended up feeling like I wanted to get out of that concert hall FAST.
Dismemberment Plan is a great four-piece band from Washington, D.C. that is still virtually unknown. The band's debut CD blew me away, and I unfortunately missed the band when they played in Atlanta. On a recent trip to Savannah, Georgia I browsed through the newspaper only to find that the Dismemberment Plan was playing at none other than the Savannah College of Art and Design! Though I felt kind of weird arriving at the show (there were only about 20 people there, I was drunk as shit, and every other person in attendance was about half my age), the crowd and the band both quickly warmed up to each other and the concert ended up being a SMASH. Travis, the lead singer, is one man with TWICE the stage presence of most performers. Not only does he have a KILLER voice, but he's entertaining as hell to watch. But this is not just a one-man show. The other guys in the band play their balls off, and the combined effort is one pure blast of energy that I found incredibly appealing. Catch this band on the live circuit now because they're playing at small clubs (which is ALWAYS preferable). If some record executive wanted to, they could make a BUNDLE off this band. If they play near you, go see 'em. Guaranteed good FUN.
This is an excellent live band, and this is most certainly a case where seeing the band live made me appreciate their music even more. This Chicago quartet plays hard-edged rock music that is both catchy and addictive. Fig Dish's drummer is one of the most explosive, hard-hitting drummers around. The guy pumps like a mother on his set for the entire show without EVER letting up. And lead vocalist Blake is a stunning showman, with a really cool snarling vocal style that fits the music perfectly. It was somewhat unfortunate for Walt Mink that a band like this opened up the show for them, because Fig Dish blew them totally off the stage. And that's really saying something, because Walt Mink is an incredible band! Somewhat like the Replacements (except with much better songs), Fig Dish is a band with the songs and the talent to deliver what people want. To end their show, the band played an amazingly believable rendition of "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" that had the crowd howling for more. I can hardly wait to catch 'em again next time...
What a HELL of a show! As far as pop/rock groups fronted by females are concerned, Fuzzy is now in my favorite Top 3 of all time (along with Fanny and Zuzu's Petals). This band's music is a pure feelgood experience, full of totally uplifting melodies...and these girls sing and play their panties off for the crowd. In fact, the girls in this band are possibly the most talented female songwriters and guitarists I have EVER heard. Playing tunes from their first CD as well as their most recent release (Electric Juices), it was hard to contain the excitement I felt hearing all the Fuzzy songs I know so well being played with such style and passion. Not only are the girls cool performers, the male rhythm section absolutely KICKS ASS. The sum of the parts is a band that pop purists won't want to miss either in concert or on CD. I can't think of anything better to say about a band than to say that they make me feel happy. And Fuzzy makes me very, very, VERY happy indeed. What a goddamn INCREDIBLE band!!!
Possibly the best live band I've ever seen. Savannah, Georgia's Gam is a band that you have to experience to appreciate. I could try to describe them, but I'd never be able to get the message across...but hey, I'll try anyway. This band plays psychedelic, acid-drenched rock music that sticks in your head like glue. And every one of their performances has left me feeling like I've been on heavy, heavy drugs. A Gam show is unlike any other rock show around. These guys utilize strobes, colored lights, and stage props (which is not all that unusual), but the sum of the parts--the music, the images, the performance--is overwhelming and hard to believe while you're witnessing it. Though they are still virtually unknown, this band plays with enough passion and energy to be filling big, BIG concert halls. For this particular Halloween show at the Velvet Elvis in Savannah, the band presented some new material as well as some new "headgear" that pushed them into the next dimension. This was possibly the best show I've seen this band play, and that's saying a lot since every show has been a complete KNOCKOUT. Get the CD. See them live. I don't know how they do it, but Gam keep getting better and better...
Me like Gas Huffer rock band. Band play good, having fun to listen to. Of all Epitaph band, Gas Huffer favorite band. Last time see band, have tripped out fun explosive. Band come to town again, ready for more fun. Last time Gas Huffer in Atlanta, band play Saturday night. Have big crowd, everyone plenty drunk. This time, band play less popular club on Tuesday night. Not as many people, atmosphere not as loose. Band seem disappointed at turnout, but that not matter. Once Gas Huffer take stage, everyone in club start having fun. Matt (lead singer) dancing around like chicken on L.S.D. plenty fun to watch. Meanwhile, rest of band play hepped up hillbilly rock and roll like nobody else. By end of set, everyone in club really into music. Can think of no other band that compare to Gas Huffer. Rocking stuff played with full bowl of gusto. Rock and rock!
Watching and hearing this band, I couldn't figure out who they sounded like. Glazed Baby play a weird mish-mash of styles that is hard to figure out. The drummer flailed away like he was having seizures (the guy reminded me of Motocaster's drummer) while the two guitarists threw out some of the weirdest sounding shit this side of Pluto. I'm not sure why, but the bass player/singer must have had a bee in his bonnet that night or something 'cause he seemed real, real upset. Him VERY mad, play very ANGRY! No matter, because it only added to the tenseness that the band displayed. I've seen few bands that can actually pull off that "angry, snotty" thing well. The bass player threw his bass down twice during the show, and by the end had broken all but one string. Now that's showmanship. All the guys in the band put on a mesmerizing performance. If you like weird stuff, you owe it to yourself to check out this band. They're really, REALLY strange...
Clay Harper is one of the best songwriters I've heard come out of Atlanta. His songs are clever and sincere, and he has an uncanny knack for writing really good melodies. Mr. Harper played a cross-section of his material recently at a small club in Atlanta with his big seven-piece band (which included Tom Gray, formerly of the Brains). The band played tight and straight from the hip, while Clay belted out tune upon tune with his distinctive and unusual vocal style. At one point during the show, Mr. Harper displayed true social responsibility by suggesting that audience members who were too drunk to drive should snort speed or cocaine so that they could make the drive home. Though he may be best known for his recording studio and pizza parlours, I believe Clay's true calling is as a singer and songwriter. The man has something rare and unique: real talent. And he's an interesting performer as well...
Chris Knox is a very talented man. This New Zealander records his music in his home studio and it gets released all over the world. Indeed, Chris is an inspiration to all those thousands of home tapers who may sometimes wonder if their work is all in vain. Seeing Chris play live was an odd experience. He played alone with nothing except a drum machine, a keyboard, and a guitar. That's a tough act for anyone to pull off, but Mr. Knox managed to keep the audience entertained for the majority of his set. Though some of his limp-wristed antics were a turn off (particularly the segment where he invited a man to come up on stage and pull his trousers down so that Chris could kiss him on the butt), when Chris toned down the camp element of his performance and concentrated on the music he came across rather well. While I would certainly want to get hold of any and all of this man's recorded work, I'm not sure if I would catch his live show again. It was entertaining, yes, but it somehow didn't add to my appreciation of his music. But, of course, things change and people change...and next year Chris's stage show might just blow us all away. He's talented, that's for sure. It'll be interesting to see where this man heads to next...
Lazy are EXPLOSIVE!!! Though I've been a fan of this band's music ever since they began, this is the first time I had seen their live show. Wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW!!! I wasn't quite prepared for this. I thought they'd be entertaining but...this was certainly a case where the band far exceeded my already high expectations. These two guys (Steve and Jeremy) and two girls (Meghan and Keri) have about as much stage presence and energy as any single band can contain. The band played lots of stuff from their latest Roadrunner CD plus several new tunes I'd never heard before. Despite the fact that the show was poorly attended, Lazy still rocked out like holy Hell. I'm not sure why this band hasn't caught on yet. It could be that their music is so unique and original that folks just don't know what to do with it. Then again, it could just be the fact that there are too many excellent bands out there for all of them to make it. Whatever the case, this is a VASTLY OVERLOOKED little band that derserves your attention. In fact, I can honestly say that this show was one of the best five concerts of 1996. Steve Scholl's unusual ability to balance on his boot heels for the majority of the show was cool as SHIT. Support Lazy. Bands don't get much better than this. Once again...WOW.
I had been playing and enjoying the latest CD from Ho-Hum long before I caught the band live, so much of their material was very familiar to me. In listening to the CD, I was impressed by how strong the lead singer's voice was. Now I know WHY he has such a strong voice. This guy (Lenny Bryan) is BIG...at LEAST 6' 3", and he and the rest of the band sounded pretty much EXACTLY like they do in their recorded work. Though the band was playing for a relatively small crowd, they swelled and swerved with TONS of energy...and I came away from this show liking the band even more than I did in the first place. That they are endorsed by President Clinton (yup, their press kit actually included a copy of a letter that they received from...the PRESIDENT) seems rather unusual, these guys still rock out BIG TIME. They hail from Little Rock, Arkansas...which is a place I hear very few bands from. Besides lead vocalist Lenny, the band consists of his brother Rod Bryan (bass), cool guitarist Kevin Kerby, and master drummer Dave Hoffpauir. If these guys play near you, I highly recommend seeing them. They are totally unpretentious fellows playing good, solid music. Oh...and I wasn't too surprised either in speaking with 'em that they seem like the nicest fellows you could meet. Ho-Hum is totally COOL.
I MOTHER EARTH
I Mother Earth is a band with a great deal of commercial radio appeal. They've got all the elements that ought to make FM programmers happy. Certainly a band with the "sound of the nineties," I wasn't quite quite what I was getting into seeing the band play live. After watching the band play a couple of tunes, I really started noticing the percussion. I Mother Earth have two percussionists who play in perfect synch with each other. And both drummers are EXCELLENT. They put out a whole lot of energy and their rhythms are right on. The next band member that caught my attention was the guitarist. The guy plays some REALLY interesting stuff and has a great deal of stage presence. He and the bass player do some really cool interplay stuff with their guitars to create some really mind bending sounds. Some of the instrumental passages were so flawless and so well executed that it was difficult to believe some of the music was not prerecorded! Then there's that lead singer... So anyway... I Mother Earth have two percussionists who play in perfect synch with each other. And both drummers are EXCELLENT. They put out a whole lot of energy and their rhythms are right on. The next band member that caught my attention was the guitarist. The guy plays some REALLY interesting stuff and has a great deal of stage presence. He and the bass player do some really cool interplay stuff with their guitars to create some really mind bending sounds. Some of the instrumental passages were so flawless and so well executed that it was difficult to believe some of the music was not prerecorded...
Ivy is one of the best pop bands I've ever heard. I suppose that's why I find it so confusing that my own hometown seems to want to ignore them. They've released two EPs and a full-length CD...and they're all BRILLIANT. Yet, here in Atlanta, the band is virtually unknown (which is not always a BAD thing). In concert, Ivy is a perplexing band. While I normally condemn and despise rock musicians who don't acknowledge the crowd they've playing for, in some ways this band's lack of eye contact seemed to work in their favor. In fact, watching the band play, it seemed like they went into some sort of trance while playing. And whether the audience was with them or not, they were in their own little world creating some perfectly HEAVENLY pop music. Lead singer Dominique Durand's voice sounded fantastic, but the four backing musicians themselves were mesmerizing in this particular concert. Adam Chase, Adam Schlesinger and two other fellows (didn't get their names...damn! the lead guitarist was EXCELLENT) provided a solid, hypnotic sound that was totally addictive. This was the band's last show touring as the opening act for Edwyn Collins. Hopefully Ivy will begin to garner more attention in Atlanta, as what they're doing is so far superior to most pop bands around...
THE JESUS LIZARD
I had heard from so many folks about this band's live show that I was expecting something incredible. Fortunately, The Jesus Lizard did not let me down. This band plays full-tilt, assaultive rock music like no other...and they have a big, big, BIG sound (especially when you consider that there are only three guys playing instruments!). The lead singer is REALLY something else. This guy might just win the prize for the most sweat produced by any single man during a concert. The guy sways, jumps, crawls into the crowd... In many ways, he reminds me of a modern-day Jim Morrison...except the music sounds NOTHING AT ALL like the Doors (thank God). The crowd seemed plenty pleased by it all, and everything was going along great until the band came back for an encore. The singer's microphone went completely out for two of the three tunes, and it left everyone feeling kind of dissatisfied with the way the concert ended. Instead of leaving on a bad note, though, the band came back for a second encore and that's when things REALLY heated up. I felt like they were intent on making up for the awkwardness of the previous two tunes, so they went completely wild for the final encore. You won't often find a band where each of the four parts (drums, bass, guitar, singer) are so forceful and mesmerizing. Even though this was a great show, I somehow got the impression it was an "off night" for the band (which means they were better than most bands are on a good night). Highly recommended, this band is loud and very HARSH.
Atlanta favorites the Lizardmen are the best retro-sixties band I think I've ever heard. The band has an amazingly large repertoire of sixties tunes, which range from the familiar to the obscure. The quartet possesses the amazing ability to make jaded tiresome tunes come alive with spark and punch, as if they were just written yesterday. The overall sound of the band reminds me very much of the Smithereens. The band seemed to be having a great time churning out tune after tune after tune...while a hungry audience lapped up every drop. The Lizardmen are pure fun to see and hear. I'd like to hear these guys do an all-original set of music, because I bet they can write some killer songs...
Local H's debut CD didn't make much of an impression on me, but their second release blew me away completely. Tons of great tunes, excellent production, and a really BIG sound... I was very curious to see how these guys could pull off their stuff in concert, because I knew they do the UNTHINKABLE...they play concerts using only drums and guitar. I'm pleased to report that of the three bands I caught last night, Local H blew all the other bands away. With their sheer mental energy and physical power, these two guys PUMP. The drummer literally flails and crashes away so hard you won't believe it...while the guitarist bashes his guitar and screams like a banshee. And they played virtually every song I wanted to hear. While I have to admit that I like the recorded sound of the band better than the way they sound in concert, I can still highly recommend seeing Loca H live simply because there's nothing out there quite like them right now. Minimalist to be sure...but when you've got good songs that's really all you need. Hell, the band even did a cover of a song by the band Fig Dish (both bands are from Illinois). Now THAT'S class! Local H rocks without being pretentious or monotonous.
Loop Guru hit the concert scene recently as the opening act for Meat Beat Manifesto. The band has a really good buzz going across the United States, mainly as a result of their most recent CD released on the World Domination label. In concert, the band came across somewhat differently than they do in their recorded work. The rhythms were much more tribal and bass heavy, and it didn't sound as if there was as much sample layering going on. Interestingly, lots of the vocals and instrumentation almost came across sounding like jazz music with a dance beat. As far as the crowd reaction, people either really got into Loop Guru or they seemed very disinterested. I enjoyed some parts of this show, but other segments almost seemed monotonous. Given the choice, I would say that I like Loop Guru's CD better than their live show, but at the same time they certainly put out for the audience. Whatever you say about them, they're not really like anything else out there right now.
The band Low sounds unlike any other band currently out and about at present. The band's droning pop music is hypnotic and trance-like, and I was blown away by their latest CD. Seeing the band in concert, I finally realized the best way to describe their sound: Matthew Sweet on valium. Yep, that just about sums it up. In concert, I couldn't help but notice how similar the lead vocalist's voice is to Mr. Sweet's. Even the songs sound similar except, of course, they're much, MUCH slower and darker. In concert, the band sounded amazingly like their recordings...and they somehow managed to retain all the subtleties in performance that make their recorded work such a joy. I wish that I could have seen this band play in any environment other than a rock club, however, because the rude and pretentious audience was way, WAY too noisy. I guess preening their leather jackets and smoking their stinking cigarettes was more important than appreciating the music. Whatever the case, the folks who had their eyes and ears tuned in were treated to a great show...
I listened to Lustre's A & M debut CD trying to figure out exactly who it sounded like. The sound was familiar, but I somehow just couldn't put my finger on it. Seeing the band live, I was able to come up with a good comparison. Lustre sounds very much like a mixture of Material Issue, Semisonic, and (particularly so) a slowed-down version of Walt Mink. The band plays hard and heavy, but the vocal melodies they layer on top are rather beautiful. And boy...can these guys SING! The drummer reminded me of those drummer in high school that somehow seemed like they were born playing drums. The guy's a real natural...making it all look so easy. Even though this trio was tight as shit and had a bigger sound than many bands twice their size, an apathetic Atlanta audience didn't seem too impressed. Of course, all it would take to change that would be some single from the CD to take off and become a hit. Then EVERYONE would be swarming all over Lustre like flies on a dead horse. The interesting thing is that I could see this band having a big hit. Their songs are accessible, catchy, and very, very melodic. Their live show is really good, but the CD is even better...
Parents aren't the only folks who hate Marilyn Manson. Critics hate 'em too. Almost all critics, that is. I really love this band's music...and "Antichrist Svperstar" is their best CD yet. I almost didn't attend the band's recent Atlanta show in a suburban concert hall because I figured it would be impossible to enjoy it due to all the teenagers. Wrong. There were almost no teenagers at this show. No skinheads. No punks. Instead, the audience consisted almost entirely of middle-aged white trash surburban folks who looked nothing short of hilarious in their attempts to "imitate" their heros and look "alternative". Marilyn Manson is a band that has been marketed so well that they're now a hot commodity. Their key to success? Dress like freaks, hire the best photographers in the country for publicity shots, hire top-notch graphic designers, write songs with pensive lyrics like "Fuck it! Fuck it!", put the best publicists in the music business to work...and there you have it: SUCCESS. After seeing this concert, I finally figured out who this band appeals to (at least in Atlanta, that is): Stupid white trash people. And Mr. Manson had all those stupid people right in the palms of his devilish little hands. The chorus that got the audience the most worked up was when Mr. Manson started singing "Shit! Shit! Shit! Motherfucker!" The audience screamed along with glee. Particularly memorable moments of the concert were when the lights dimmed and snow fell on Marilyn as he sang a slow song, and the highlight was when the Nazi backdrop was unveiled, with Mr. Manson doing his very best Hitler impersonation. The band could not have picked a more appropriate encore than the tune "Cake and Sodomy," with the lyric that was all too appropriate for the crowd. "White trash get down on your knees!" They at it up, and were happy to do so. This show put me into complete hysterics. My friend Kendall and I found it all EXTREMELY humorous. Oddly enough, I don't think the rest of the audience found it funny. In fact, I think they took the band quite seriously. Even though the punked out white trash audience looked kinda sad and pathetic, they sure were a lot more friendly that folks in inner-city rock clubs. Did Marilyn Manson rock? They sure as Hell did. Did I enjoy the show? You BET.
One of the most unique bands of the past few years, Mercury Rev confounds and confuses most folks. Perhaps this is because there are so few reference points for people to compare the music to. Whatever the case, I've fallen in love with virtually every release I've heard from this band (even though they are overly hip in the underground scene...). Mercury Rev played at the Point on Halloween night 1995. Watching the band play, I was reminded of how many incredible tunes they have...and what a strangely hypnotic quality the band possesses. The films in the background...of various colors and blurred images...fit the mood of the band perfectly. I will admit that this band does not have the most stage presence ever, but they still put on a damn fine show. Many people left before the band had gotten half way through their set, though. I would have to guess that this could have been because of three things: (1) Toenut (the opening band) played too long, (2) the audience wasn't familiar with Mercury Rev's music, and (3) the audience wasn't drunk and high enough. Whatever the case, my faith remains unshaken. There's not another band like 'em on this goddamn planet.
One of my top favorite Georgia bands at the moment, Orange Hat play upbeat pop in the same vein as early Squeeze. The band's latest self-produced and distributed cassette is a pure delight, and one of the best independent projects I've heard this year. I was fortunate to catch the band playing at an obscure club in Smyrna, Georgia recently and was treated to a concert that I wouldn't have wanted to miss. The band wore hats during their show, and did a more than adequate job of recreating their recorded sound in concert. I think what appeals to me most about this band is how unconcerned they seem to be with being "hip" or "cool". Instead, these four guys seem to be playing to have fun, and this comes across crystal clear in their music. All four fellows are very accomplished musicians, and their tunes are hummable and unique. Songs are what matter most to me with any band, and that's what makes Orange Hat so appealing. I highly recommend these guys' recorded work and their performances. There's no one else in Georgia that I know of that sounds like 'em. A totally fun experience.
I recently caught this all-female for the second time. These four girls churn out some goddamn GREAT tunes...but better yet, they're all very focused, very charismatic performers with completely different personalities. After catching these dynamic ladies the second time around, I can honestly say that these girls are one of the top female rock acts of all time. The bass player is cool as shit, and she looks like she was born with that thing slung over her shoulder. The guitarist in the middle is one HECK of a performer...outdoing most male punks out there with her sheer attitude and intensity. The guitarist on the right is a REAL screamer...and she confronts the audience constantly. And that drummer...WOW. This girl can beat the pants off any man out there. The audience was going CRAZY over this band, so I was certain there would be a couple of encores. Not so. During the last tune, one of the Aunts spewed a beer all over the audience...and the audience in turn spewed them right back. There must have been ten or fifteen people all spraying beers everywhere at once. Understandably, the Aunts got freaked and ran away. But who needs an encore when your set is tight and powerful? Believe me, these ladies rock. This is a MUST SEE band for certain!
I've reviewed at least a couple of audio releases from Season To Risk that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I was curious to see what this band would be like live. The band headlined a triple bill recently, playing with Shiner and Glazed Baby. Both the opening bands were so good that I thought the headliner might be a letdown but...NO WAY!!! Despite the fact that there were probably no more than ten people to hear their set, Season To Risk played a POWERFUL, INCREDIBLE, CRAZY set of music that absolutely KICKED ASS! They were so good that I couldn't believe the club wasn't packed to the hilt. This band has a SUPERB drummer with a really unusual, hypnotic style of drumming, a bass player that gets in a groove and stays there, a totally psychedelic lead guitarist, and a vocalist that is one of the best frontmen I've ever seen. The band put out tons and TONS of energy...all the while frontman Steve went totally nuts, causing me to laugh out loud several times during the performance. Great music, great show...Season To Risk is a MUST SEE band!!! I left this show feeling exhilerated. This band knocked my goddamn socks off!
On a recent trip to Savannah, Georgia I again visited what I believe to be one of the TOP rock clubs in the United States: the Velvet Elvis. This club is filling a void that I don't think has ever been filled in Savannah, providing the city with an impressive array of modern, alternative rock bands. I happened into the club to see a band called Seely from my own town of Atlanta. I wasn't expecting much because I'd never heard of the band. All I can say is...WOW. This band doesn't sound ANYTHING like other Atlanta bands I've heard. Seely plays droning, atmospheric, psychedelic pop music that is very, very spacey and haunting. The only reference point I could come up with is that they sound something like the Monochrome Set, except slower and more drug-influenced. Though the band had only played out a few times prior to playing this show, they were EXTREMELY tight and proficient...and all four members of the band played an integral part in defining the overall sound. Great instrumentation, great vocals, and intense drum playing... This is a band that I HIGHLY recommend seeing...and I can't WAIT to hear their recorded work (they have a full-length CD coming out early 1996). This is one of the best things I've ever heard to come out of Atlanta...
Hailing from Minneapolis, Semisonic reminds me of Ben Folds Five in many ways. The band seemingly came out of nowhere (sorry, I wasn't familiar with Trip Shakespeare...), and they've got songs that beat the pants off just about every other band around. The band's latest CD is a breathtaking pure pop romp that left me reeling and astounded. In concert, the band did a very good job of recreating their recorded sound, and they seemed to be having a good time playing together. Though the live sound was a good deal thinner than the sound on the band's CD, the melodies and ideas still came across crystal clear. In addition to having great songs, Semisonic have one other thing that sets them light years ahead of most bands: great vocals. These guys can sing up a storm, and their harmonies are SPECTACULAR. After hearing the band live, my friend Beth and I both decided that they are very similar to Crowded House. I can certainly recommend seeing this band play, but I would even more strongly suggest picking up their latest CD (Great Divide) when it's released. It's KILLER...
I really enjoyed the last CD I heard from Shiner, but it sure didn't prepare me for this band's live show. This trio plays hard-edged, jagged rock music with a decidedly mean slant. The vocalist has a coarse shriek/yell that takes getting used to, but once you get into it...HELL! These guys play like they really mean it. Powerhouse drums, kickass bass (from the ex-bass player for Jawbox), and to top it all off...they've got some really great songs. This band is definitely worth checking out. If they gave this much to a club that was virtually empty...I can't imagine what they must be like in a packed club. Great fun.
I think I've finally figured out why the Squirrel Nut Zippers have always seemed so confusing to me. It's not so much what they're doing as much as it is the way they have been promoted. This cool, totally fun band plays swing/jazz music that sounds like it came straight out of the 1940s...yet they cater to a largely rock and roll audience! College radio, normally into alternative rock, picked up on the band like wildfire. The band sells out at clubs that normally host rock and roll bands. This has certainly created a unique niche in the market for the Zippers. Fortunately, this band is anything but a clever marketing ploy. I saw this band for the second time recently, and liked them even better. I think the thing that makes these folks be able to pull their thing off is, quite simply, that they seem to be sincere, good folks out mainly to have a good time. This shows in their performance and the songs they write. This band deserves all the praise they've been receiving. Don't miss them when they come to your town. You'll leave the club feeling very, VERY good...
Atlanta's Swimming Pool Q's is a band with true staying power. The band has been active in one form or another since the early eighties, fueled by the inventive songwriting and leadership of Jeff Calder. The band played in Atlanta recently to a fairly packed club, displaying incredible musicianship and style. Mr. Calder's songs range from rock to pop and now even to world music, and in this show the band shifted in and out of one style to the next with ease. I've never heard Jeff's voice sound better, and the current lineup is so tight it'll make your heels reel. The band played oldies (including the legendary "Rat Bait") as well as some brand new stuff that was more atmospheric in nature. Though this band has been around seemingly forever, they haven't lost the spark. The audience ate it up. Great show, great tunes...an all around good time for all.
Richmond, Virginia's Technical Jed is a band with an astounding amount of real potential. The quartet's somewhat dischordant approach to pop/rock music is compelling and arresting...and the band has tons of knockout songs. I had played the latest CD (The Oswald Cup) into the ground prior to seeing this show, so I was very familiar with just about everything the band played. In all honesty, the Technical Jed did not come off as forceful and powerful as they do on their recorded work...but that may have something to do with the touring lineup. Apparently, the touring band is not the same as the recording band. Despite this, this band still put on a damn fine show...and hearing the tunes live it made me realize that if they are managed and promoted right, this band could be big, big, BIG. Another drawback to this show was the fact that whoever was running the lights and sound did not seem familiar with the band's music. The Technical Jed already have their act together in their recorded work. With just a little fine tuning in their live show, they might just end up being one of the biggest bands of the nineties.
TO LIVE AND SHAVE IN L.A.
Harsh noisemakers To Live and Shave in L.A. played at Dottie's recently (now closed) to a medium-sized crowd. The band's latest self-titled release on Fifth Column Records had already prepared me for the show. This band is a trio consisting of a vocalist, a guitarist, and a "noisemaker." Though they only played for about 20 minutes, the trio managed to shake the walls and the brains of the crowd, creating a harsh, almost undiscernable blast of noise. The more I listen to the this band, the more they remind me of a disease. The biggest difference is that these folks are even less musical, if you can imagine that. Also, they don't use drums. This is the kind of stuff that I certainly can't recommend to everyone, but if you like art/noise/experimental stuff, these folks put on a rather interesting show. Talking with guitarist Rat Bastard after the show, it sounds as if the band is having a good deal of success in selected cities. If you like the feeling that you've been assaulted then...
HORROR OF KAREN BLACK
Have heard about this band for long time, but never see live show before now. This very strange...just as much theatrical as musical, with six people make big impression. Throughout show, everyone expect famous actress to show up. As turn out, no famous actress at all. "Karen Black" is name what lead singer use for self. And what self what is! This "Karen" wear so much body paint to resemble ugly witch...and not even wear clothing on upper torso! While "witch" sing like android on illegal drug, two other female run all around stage using large glow-in-dark prop what make for big visual stimulate. Was interesting to notice that most folk in club not be able to take eye off stage...very unusual for modern rock club! What even more unusual is that band (what consist of bass, guitar, and drums) actually VERY good...particularly rhythm section. Drummer pound drums VERY WELL, bass player provide constant accompany. Only odd thing is that so much visual thing happen that it sometime hard to concentrate on music. This rare case where music and visual stimulate very much on same level, where one equal to other. You may yell "GIMMICK" when see this band, but this okay with babysue guy. Rock band using gimmick is GOOD THING (as long as gimmick work, that is). Have great fun at show (for various other reason as well). With good friend what describe this visually as "mix between Divine and the Judds." Good comparison. The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black is band what know how to entertain. And is that not point after all???
Hailing from Syracuse, New York, the Wallmen are one of the best and most underrated bands around. I caught this band for the second time recently opening up for Gam at the Velvet Elvis club in Savannah. Wow!!! I liked the Wallmen the last time I saw them play, but this time they BLEW ME AWAY!!! This band plays absorbing power pop with falsetto vocals that you have to hear to believe, and in this particular show they sounded tight as shit. Though I was rather shocked that the audience didn't have a stronger reaction to this performance, the Wallmen put on a totally hyper, super fun show that I will never forget. If these guys play in your town, you must check them out. Great songs, great performers. This shows made a believer out of me.
Prior to going to this concert, I was already into the music of Yatsura. The band's debut CD on the Che label (We Are Yatsura) is chock full of obtuse, odd pop music that gets better the more you listen to it. The band's Atlanta concert was the first stop on their first American tour. I'm not sure if the band was suffering from jetlag (they had just landed in the U.S. the day before the show) or what, but for some reason things just weren't happening. Of course, playing for a crowd that is almost completely unfamiliar with your music is an obstacle (I felt like I was the only person in the club who knew the songs!). To pull off their recorded sound live I think Yatsura needs a more powerful rhythm section. The drummer is adequate, but the girl playing bass is just plain dull. This wasn't a bad show, but I was somewhat disappointed. This might have just been an off night for the band. Whatever the case, the audience seemed to enjoy it and Yatsura did get tighter and heavier as they progressed through their set. There were some great highlights, like when the band thrashed through "Plastic Ashtray."
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!!! Though I know this band's music is too sweet and melodic for many an alternative snob's musical taste, I think Yum Yum is SUPERB. The band hails from Chicago, Illinois and they have just released their debut CD on the always cool TAG label. Fronted by an extremely talented fellow named Chris Holmes, the band played a great many tunes from their new CD (Dan Loves Patti) that sounded true to form. The band actually rock much harder in concert than they do on the CD, which makes me think that this may be the direction Yum Yum is heading in. Whatever they do, I hope they retain their soft side, because the stuff that Chris played with his acoustic guitar was probably the best. Chris writes really smooth pop tunes, and he has a voice that's even smoother. The young lady who sang and played violin added just the right touch to the music...and the bass player and drummer (thank God) knew the meaning of restraint. Though the Atlanta audience didn't seem that familiar with the band's music, they still received resounding applause for a show that was musically exceptional and played from the heart. Oh yeah...Chris's in-between song patter was often times incredibly funny... Yum Yum is just now on the crest of what I hope is going to be a long and successful career. This is a band with real TALENT.