The Killer Balloons - It is a night of four area rock bands, each shooting off in their own direction. We start with a local four-piece with one guitar and a vocalist. The singer immediately shows off his great pipes as he hits and holds notes with a lot of power, sort of Rob Halford an octave or two lower. The name reminds me of a harder update of the old Nuggets band, the Balloon Farm and as they play, that seems pretty accurate. They start with great garage rock but have a heavier modern touch as well. It is kind of like if Kyuss had not morphed into Queens of the Stone Age, but headed more in the direction of the Flamin' Groovies. They achieve all the bonus points I can give them for combining classic sounds in a modern framework. It is hard to do and they were a complete success. Hopefully they will keep getting the shows around here and show people what they can do.
Citizen* - The asterisk does not go anywhere and that would be a lazy way for me to describe their music. Thankfully, that was not true as this hard rocking four piece had catchy music that went somewhere. It was a bit too pretty for me, reminding me of the time I saw Rex (Smith) open for Ted Nugent back in my high school days. But these guys are much tougher than Rex Smith thankfully. The guitars rocked and the rhythm section some times had a nasty undercurrent which helped offset the sometimes overly attractive singing and melodic lines. An accomplished band and one that can be successful, but one that came a little bit short of working for my tastes.
Niki Barr Band - This band had the longest trek tonight, hailing from Baltimore, but they added yet another unique rock element to tonight's bill. They had the lead guitar, bass, and drums working and were fronted Niki Barr singing, playing guitar and a bit of keyboards. She had great energy and charisma as did the entire band for that matter. They were very together and played a heavy rock music with full understanding of punk and post-punk moves. There was some very creative guitar work amongst the steady power of the rhythm section. Edgy and assured. They had enough creative twists away from the norm, sort of in the manner of some of the Dangerhouse bands like Alley Cats or Bags had when they went off in their direction away from LA pop-punk (I'm reading a biography of Black Flag, so I'm stuck in an LA punk mindset right now). Great set and they had the club rocking hard.
Black Dog Prowl - Another four-piece with two guitars blasting away, although they started with a solo bit from one of the guitarists who was doing a rootsy rock tune. Nice move to vary things up a bit. There was a tough blues base that was sometimes obscured in their heavy sound. I liken it to what would happen if the children of Black Oak Arkansas broke up their punk band and tried to reinvent their father's music. Or maybe, they are a grungier Valient Thorr or perhaps a localized Easy Action with less John Brannon. But it is more fun for me to dream up an odd way to work Black Oak Arkansas into this write-up. But back to these guys... They played hard, played well and went over with the crowd with their good tough rock sound in what was yet another variation of the hard rock theme that four bands brought tonight. Good show.
Quote of the Night: From Nikki Barr... "Fucking is a normal, natural thing..." as she went on to explain that there should be fucking in the streets. I hadn't realized that one of John Sinclair's key agenda points from the White Panther Party's work was still in play. I met Sinclair a few years ago and he is still a sharp and interesting character.