Presto Bando - I finally set foot in the reconstituted club combining the upstairs space at the Red & the Black with the Palace of Wonders. The Red Palace features more room, a bigger bar, a huge elevated stage, bigger sound, and a better comfort level for the audience. First up is a well dressed three-piece featuring a guitarist/vocalist with a great Eraserhead styled hairdo. Immediately, the audience awakens to some original challenging sounds. My first impression is Daniel Johnston meets Captain Beefheart meets Dead Milkmen meets early Devandra Banhart. Eclectic, you ask? Yes. The crowd of about 25 people were into it which was nice to see. There was a fun sense about it all and a confidence in the band, so it came across well. As a fellow audience member and I discussed after the set, that although the live show is a tough place to analyze lyrics, clearly these were some sharp lyrics to go along with the sharp music. Not for the faint of heart, but I do recommend music lovers challenge themselves with this band at least one time. I'll be back.
Mercies - Another trio hits the stage and they look familiar. As I continue to work my way through the never ending list of talented bands in this area, everyone looks familiar and I have trouble keeping track of the people I see, meet, and even have good talks with. Thankfully, at set's end, the guitarist comes up to chat and it turns out he is in the band Little Bigheart and the Wilderbeast who I have seen numerous times. This band is different than his other band with a more modern, edgy pop rock sound. The bassist has an interesting buzzing sound on the first song and both he and the guitarist do a lot of two-part singing which works very well. The Mercies brand of pop music is more toward the agitated pop sound and just writing the word agitated immediately makes me think of the Styrenes and some of the other pre-punk styled bands that had agitated approach to conventional musical forms. Not that these guys were angry, as they were having a good time as was the swelling crowd which had at least doubled in size. And it is their second show ever, and hopefully far from their last.
Killer Balloons - I have seen this band once before and reviewed their debut album. They have a great accessible sound that combines classic rock with garage moves and strong vocals pushing forward solid pop melodies. They have added a keyboardist who plays some organ and piano. Without looking at previous reviews, I am willing to be I mentioned the singer reminding me of a lower pitched Feargal Sharkey (Undertones). That catchy kind of singing came through loud and clear in spite of the nice racket cooked up by the four guys behind him. These guys can play and can come up with the songs as they played numerous cuts from the album, at least three new originals and a cover of the Who's "Baba O'Riley". That was fun until I looked around and suddenly felt like this high school anthem of mine was written back when very few of the people in this room were even alive. But thoughts of confused timelines and aging quickly passed and I enjoyed the rest of their set. They appear to be working hard and hopefully will continue to add to their fan base, as their music should appeal to a whole lot of people out there.
Quote of the Night: From the openers and a fan from the crowd:
"This is a song about terrorism."