Surf City - I rarely do much research on the bands I am going to see as long as I come up with one reason to see a show. So this unknown four-piece hits the stage running with a Hawkwind-like rhythm section laying it down for two guitars to add to the grind and create a synth-like swirl. The vocals are melodic and nice and seem to be grabbed from some pop song memory and grafted on. I thought I was hearing a couple of Ramones songs later in the set (think Joey's pop songs) playing atop a steady controlled noise with a Tommy Hall (13th Floor Elevators) jug part played on guitar. This set worked extremely well like a nice jambalaya, with clearly defined parts combined for a nice total experience. So, were these accomplished musicians some kids from Brooklyn hoping to catch the eyes and ears of Animal Collective or Caribou? No, they are from New Zealand and have traveled a long way for our listening pleasure. And pleasure was had by the fairly full backstage crowd. There is a lot to grab onto in their songs. Hopefully the audiences will continue to come out for this band while they are here. I have a feeling they will be back again some time. Hope so.
Bardo Pond - This band is a known commodity for me and a lot of people in this area. I have seen this Philadelphia quintet at two Terrastock festivals and once previously here many years ago. But it has been nearly two years since the last festival in Louisville, and with a really nice new record out, I was anxious to see these psychedelic doom merchants. The Gibbons brothers create strong, atmospheric, noisy powerful guitar sounds that seemingly have a lot of intricate sounds for something so thick. The bass fattens things out considerably and the drums keep it all going and offer many startling little breaks within the drone. Isobel Sollenberger offers up downer/dreamy vocal lines and flute parts to add a touch of treble in the deep dark songs. Bardo Pond does have real songs as there is some character and style adjustments when they do break. But they really can lay out a throbbing drone that is ever so addictive. Just when they appear to rock out a bit, they pull it back into the groove like a taffy machine stretching out that sweet sludge but never losing the mass. They played an hour long set that was well received so they were invited back for another 20 minutes or so. Downer music never felt so uplifting.
Plug of the Night: A Bardo Pond side project is headed back to our are here on April 23rd at the Avant Fairfax Festival. Lots of great bands will be there and I am really looking forward to the set by veteran UK guitarist Michael Chapman. I have loads of his material and even own some of his test pressings. I have been here before. You will get a ton of great music for a very low price. The line-up looks better than ever. I hope many of you join me there.