Reptar - From Athens, Georgia comes this five piece previously unknown to me. They line up with keyboards, an extra percussionist with the guitarist providing the vocals. And it was those vocals that perplexed me early on. Simply put, this guy made Devandra Banhart sound like Scott Walker. The first few songs were all rhythm based with only the bass lines showing any kind of melodic delivery, well with the vocals, too. Things continued to throb, but it all got a bit more tuneful. The pop tones started coming through, although everything was a bit twisted which did help. They were engaging enough, although I could not detect that the crowd was getting into this much. Some people were as there was a bit of energy up front. It was not a large crowd tonight and this was the second time I have seen the seating area curtained off to push people forward (some tables and chairs were brought out off to the side of the merch table). Ultimately this was a challenging 45-minute set that won enough people over, but may need some work to get more people into it. But hey, they are playing Austin City Limits this September, so you can judge for yourself from your living room.
Art Brut - A bit more brute than art maybe, but neither word describes this fun energetic UK band. Actually the term as a whole describes outsider art which is accurate, but this band is steadily establishing itself with a solid fanbase of bright energetic rock music insiders. The crowd does have a lot of 'x'es on their hands and many of them were happy to meet some of the band members at the merch table before the set. So the energy was excellent and the crowd grew enough to make for about a half full club with the back seating area closed. Art Brut's sound is pretty straight ahead pop-punk-rock. I immediately think Adam Ant with the Buzzcocks in a happy mood. But the LA scene with Angry Samoans and the Dickies is also appropriate, especially since they made their fondness for LA known (before singing about LA being dumped in the sea later in the set). The two guitars blast away with a solid rhythm section moving along at a good clip. The singer is a real hoot with a mixture of dry British wit and over the top humor. He would be a nice addition to the antics of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in "The Trip" although I am not sure there's room on the screen for anyone else (great movie, by the way). He apologized after a song where lyrics inspired him to give the finger toward the crowd, but not at them... "I apologize to the people up front, especially the young people. I wasn't telling you to fuck off. Stay! Buy our t-shirts." They played some new songs with plenty of well known older songs and some requests as well. After a couple of new ones, he mentioned that "they say after a new song, you have to play a hit. But we don't have a hit." I had a great time for the 75 minutes they played and the crowd is filled with fans that will return the next time they are in town. But there are always other opinions. I am not sure if it was one of my loyal readers or just some guy with a lot on his mind, but one guy bounded over to me at the end and said that "the band was outstanding, but that vocalist was just a droning poet." There are worse things than that and I would add that this set does not have any real lulls, so I will be back again when Art Brut comes to town.
Quote of the Night: Many good ones, but I did enjoy the droning poet going into the crowd during "Modern Art" maybe? I am terrible with titles. He had most everyone sitting down and was telling a long, long story about the Van Gogh (VAN GOFF) museum in Amsterdam (where I have been) while the band played on... "I was in the museum and sat down and the security guard came up to me and said, he said Eddie? Yes? You may improvised yourself into a corner."