The Spend - This band is actually one Matt Shaw from Chicago who plays guitar and sings. He mixes things up between a straight acoustic sound to a complex hollow-body electric with loops. He uses an interesting finger style on the acoustic guitar, almost a clawhammer type approach enabling him to create some nice tough sounds mixed in with some intricate quite strumming. Electrically, it is quite varied in sound and goes into a spacey near-psychedelic landscape. Vocally, he has a deep intensity and brings it up a bit at times (basically not staying in Nick Drake territory). I always have trouble comparing acoustic players, although it reminds me of some Simon Joyner songs I heard many years ago. Electrically, I thought it approached Adam Franklin's solo work, which is a compliment. And to top it off, he actually covered a Black Sabbath song (Solitude) and actually rocked it out more than Sabbath did. Can't say that too often after a solo set. This was a very engaging set and "The Spend" is definitely an act worth donating a few bob to.
Deb Felz - Ms. Felz plays acoustic guitar and sings her original songs. She is accompanied by a pianist and a guy tapping out beats on an electronic drum box. The songs sound a lot like much of the indie folk rock you hear, but are creative enough to keep one's attention. I found her songs good and her voice quite good, although at times she missed the microphone. The keyboards were a bit too low in the mix, but popped through for a few solo moves. They were subtle and complimentary and ultimately worked well. I kept thinking that someone really oughta buy that guy a tabla and get some real percussion. I am not sure the percussion really helped a lot. This was the first time these three played together and there was certainly some evidence of that, although I am always glad when they tell me this. Some work needs to be done here, but there are some great ingrediants to work with.
Kitten on Capitol Hill - Their myspace songs sounded pretty cool, so I thought I would check out this area rock band. They are four people strong with two guitars working, one of which a female handling the lead vocals. Unfortunately the crowd of 20-25 or so faded to about 5, so it is really hard to review what amounts to rehearsal/party with friends. But the band soldiered on admirably. Unfortunately, their set was a bit erratic for me. The singer/rhythm guitarist was effective and when they really nailed a good original song, they sounded excellent. Other songs drifted into more plodding rock including a kind of pointless cover of "Born to be Wild". The lead guitar was decent and unfortunately I heard problems in the rhythm section, especially the bass. They really did not seem locked in, to quote my musician friend who confirmed my thoughts. Still, I will return to the couple of really good songs and a style that if they sharpen could work well. I will give them another shot some day.
Quote of the Night: from Deb Felz... "Shhhh... Felz is actually a pseudonym, as my real name is really long and really Jewish"