Friday, March 11, 2011

Your 33 Black Angels - Apollo Heights - Caustic Casanova -- DC9 - Mar 10 2011

Caustic Casanova - It's been many months since I have seen one of my favorite local trios. They have been busy recording and are starting to play out again. The key to their success is the diversity in their sound. Just when you pigeonhole them in a genre like psyche, indie rock, metal or whatever, they twist their sound around in another direction. They may be a bit too slippery for some listeners, but it keeps me coming back for more. I have found that by the third time I see a band, I run out of things to say unless they have some interesting new material and sounds. These guys generally succeed at this and did so tonight as well. They sounded strong, controlled feedback well and came up with a modern take on an American post-hardcore reminding me a bit of Happy World or the Undead (Bobby Steele). Well, if that is too confusing, note that they did well covering a Death from Above 1979 song. Good half-hour set to get this show rolling.

Apollo Heights - Three guys jump on stage with guitars and play an instrumental opener to a backing rhythm track. Nice simple pop guitar parts on top of a subversive shoegaze undercurrent. From then on, they cut back to two guitars with the third member handling lead vocals. Their record is called "White Music for Black People" which probably describes their intriguing mix of music as well as anything. As their set continued, their vocal power and dense instrumental contrasts really built into something extraordinary. There were U2 styled guitar tones mixed with spacey rocked out moves of Swervedriver or TV on the Radio. This is a very intriguing band and was a whole lot better than I expected from the opening notes.

Your 33 Black Angels - Also from New York and touring with Apollo Heights, this four-piece lines up with a couple of guitar/vocalists and a rhythm section. They start with something akin to alt country which really sounds odd to me. They follow it up with a very likable power pop number that has a great punch to it. For the rest of the 45 minute set, they varied the songs between rockers and some sort of odd Americana/singer-songwriter style that really did not connect with me. Part of it was the drumming worked well for the rockers, but didn't lift the other material. But I am not sure the other material was where this band should go anyway. Even when I preach diversity like I did above with Caustic Casanova, it only works if a band can come up with the songs and riffs to make it work. At best the Americana songs sounded like the Meat Puppets covering Mighty Baby, but it just was not consistent. This set was a tale of two bands and I was far more appreciative of the rocking power pop band I saw for about 20 minutes of this set.

Quote of the Night: From C.Casanova's bass player... "we even worked in a Blue Oyster Cult riff" as he related to me after the set knowing my love for that band. Well, since it was from Godzilla, I am sure I was not the only one who easily spotted it. He went on to say that when they are playing, they hit points where riffs from classic songs fit in well, so they have fun with tossing them in. Sounds like a nice approach to me.

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