Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gang of Four - Hollerado -- 9:30 Club - Feb 9 2011

Hollerado - Pretty meager crowd at the start of the set with some bad weather slowing things down a bit. It slowly fills during this 45 minute set, so it will be a good night. Hollerado is from Montreal and lines up with a couple guitars, bass and drums. Although one guitarist is the primary vocalist, all the others join in for some well done and important harmonies. Lots of "oozin-auz" within these rocking songs made for a strong power pop song reminiscent of fellow Canadians, the Nils. As the set went on, the quality varied a bit, but was always decent and occasionally quite good, maybe not quite up to the Nils who are one of the semi-forgotten bands that deserved more. "We're hungover today, so we're going to play less and talk more." On no, now there's a set killer, although their zoo stories were amusing. To follow the cliche, they did remind me of the old SCTV McKenzie brothers sketches. Actually, after some early talking, they opted for plenty of music, and their attitudes were positive and fun, so it made for a nice opening set.

Gang of Four - In May 2005, the original Gang of Four came to the club for one of the finest shows I saw that year. It was a sellout and the band had extraordinary energy and reminded everyone of how important they were as one of the formative bands of what would eventually be called post-punk. It is less than a sellout tonight, but the crowd looks smart and knows what to expect. I suspect many of them were here last time. Gang of Four has stayed active, but with the rhythm section retiring (and at least formerly living in the USA), they return with a new album and a new rhythm section. Now on to the live show. Immediately, there are sound issues. First, it was downright scary to hear the the cracking, breathy bursts of air coming out of Jon King's mouth. Not that I expect Van Morrison or Scott Walker when I hear Go4, but this looks bad. Fortunately it improved over the night as a combination of the soundman's work and King getting warmed up improved things a bit. Still, not a stellar vocal performance. Andy Gill's guitar was striking as ever. His angular playing was as original as anything happening back in the late seventies and still stands out. The drumming was solid and the bass playing agile. There just was not that fat bass sound of Dave Allen that was so pivotal for the band. Everything was precise and credible tonight, but it did not have that overwhelming sense of danger and power the previous show had. I think the sound was a bit off and it really did not build well until the end. It may have helped that they hit some of their classics in the encores (Return the Gift/Damaged Goods/At Home He's a Tourist), although most of the newer songs played well for the most part. I would gladly see this band again any time, but I am afraid the magic has gone. It is interesting that within the last year, I have also seen Public Image and Peter Hook playing early Joy Division. These are three of the most important post-punk bands, if not THE three most important. Only PiL had the magic, although all were enjoyable. As I say, I would gladly see these guys again and if you have not seen them, you still should. If you have seen them before, it is still a better night than much of what else you could be doing.

Quote of the Night: As I leaned against the sound booth prior to the show (with my coat behind me between my back and the wall), security came up to me...
"You have to move your coat."
"What, I can't have my coat behind me, as I stand here?"
"Oh, I thought you had it hanging there. We have a coat check back there."
"Well, can I hold it in front of me?"
"Yeah, but there's a coat check there." as he wandered off.

Thanks for the welcome guys, I have to wonder if the 9:30 Club gives bonuses for overly assertive comments (sometimes stupid) as I get more of them here than all of the other clubs I go to put together.


Earthdog70 said...

Thanks for the review, this is why I seem to be going to less and less shows at the 930 Club these days. Will have to make an exception for the upcoming Echo & The Bunnymen show however.

David Hintz said...

You are welcome. The club had been on a good roll for me, when this happened. Oh well, at least I had a good time once the music started. Echo has sold out the Black Cat many times, so it makes sense that they move up to accommodate the fans. I haven't seen them in a while, but do enjoy their different post-punk approach.

Tracy Lee said...

Think this is right on the money. In the balcony we couldn't hear the vocals at all for the first song, and even after the sound was tweaked the mix was such that the music overshadowed the vocals. But after moving around the club to see if it was our location that was the issue or the band we decided that we weren't missing anything in the present location being as how we knew all the words anyway. Enjoyed a great view in exchange for not hearing the vocals that well.

(Including the lead singer crouching down and "hiding" behind the amps drinking between songs thinking no one could see, and us standing practically above him)

Would have been nice for GoF to acknowledge the audience at least once, they've been to DC and the 930 Club so many times they couldn't have said anything to the crowd? Hey, how ya doing, fuck you, go buy our record, blah blah blah - but nothing?

And after seeing a handful of bands from the 80s this past year the PIL concert was by far the best of the bunch, and so far the only one where the band matched or bettered their performance and sound from their 80s tours. Johnny Lydon rocked that show pretty hard and was certainly worth the ticket price. Perhaps the Echo show at the 930 will be better than their last performance at the Black Cat where Ian didn't know half the lyrics and had no power behind his voice at all. Shows like that make me wish I had stayed at home and stuck with my memories of earlier days.

lodef.hifi said...

the 9:30 club staff has seriously just gone downhill in the past three years. they book great acts, and i'm constantly there, but why does the staff have to be so condescending or just plain mean? a couple of the female bartenders are some of the rudest people on the planet. yes, i'm aware you have to deal with drunk idiots, but that's your job. not only this, but why do they also have so many "undercover" people throughout the crowd? it's not like it's (normally) a bunch of underage high school kids.

David Hintz said...

Thanks for the additional perspectives. I probably will do a feature on the major clubs some time later this year as I accumulate war stories.