Friday, October 30, 2009

Future of the Left/Uninhabitable Mansions/Drink up Buttercup - Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Oct 29 2009

Drink up Buttercup - The fourpiece (GBD [guitar/bass/drums]with keys) started up the set in front of four people. I felt bad, but the crowd swelled quickly and ended up at about 50. The crowd hopefully was as pleased as I was to catch this fun set. It kind of began as typical indie pop-rock with vocals straight out of Shins school among many others that seem to have this tuneful strain. But then... they went playful and headed into Akron/Family space which is a very good space to be if you do it right. I think they did and they even added some 1970ish British oddball band moves--not Bonzo Dog, more of a Velvett Fogg/Tea & Symphony kind of thing. It will be interesting to see which of their leanings play better over time. I am trying not to suggest it is either/or, but their were some real differences in some songs. Nice job.

Uninhabitable Mansions - Same lineup as first band, but with another guitar and some female vocals with the keyboards. I don't know if this a side project or a supergroup (more like a AAA all-star game as I only knew one of the three bands that these members are a part of--Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah). No matter their long term plans, they have a new album and are hitting some east coast spots. Good steady as she goes pop rock for the entire set. Some catchy lead guitar lines on two songs that almost (key word) reminded me of Thomas Mapfumo or good English post-punk work. A few of the songs were a bit too lah-de-dah, although I'm listening to a really cool song on their myspace page as I write this that is anything but. I don't want to let my bias toward minor keys get in the way of what was a good pop-rock set. You could (and we all have) do a lot worse and this band could do well at some sort of level they choose to operate at.

Future of the Left - A Welsh power trio is the future of the left and although the future was in doubt early for me, I left with not a worry in the world. The opening cut sounded like some post-metal outfit that reminded me of the band t-shirt the opening band bassist had on -- Rage Against the Machine. It was hard, heavy, abrasive, a bit angular and sometimes with dance/hard hip hop rhythms. Or so it sounded to me. I was ok with this, but it wasn't moving me a whole lot until it kept getting better and better and I was getting more comfortable with the sound. And, these guys had to be the funniest band I have seen since The Stupids. But these guys were smart with really clever British humor. Maybe the six night Monty Python documentary I just viewed had me primed for the unique humor, but it worked. And the last song was a scream with an ending that has been done in this manner, but not quite this way. The guitarist left his guitar on the floor to feedback, fiddled with a synthesizer, then kept moving the cymbals that the drummer was trying to hit and dismantling the kit spreading it around the stage. The bassist is in the audience with and without bass. The drummer moves upstage and tries to stretch and reach as many cymbals as he can while everything finally fades away. Dramatic, powerful, great conclusion.

Quote of the Night: A transcription of Future of the Left would be great, but I'll just use this - "On this song, we take our cue from Genesis.... Really. We might shave our drummer, maybe make him marry a young asian woman. Then act in several bad films..." and on and on....

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