Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles - From Minneapolis, this versatile five-piece band comes to our fair city. They have drums and cello that stay pretty steady, but electric and acoustic guitars and basses mix in with accordions, glockenspiels, ukuleles and added percussion in many combinations. A female voice is on top of it all and unfortunately the voice was a bit shrill atop some muddy lows early on in the set. Fortunately the soundman righted things and the band's sound came together much better. The sound was likable enough with its Americana leanings. As the set wore on, the driving quality of the music was pulling me in nicely. The band has more going on than initially meets the ear. There is a more worldly quality than I first suspected. Ok, the Gogol Bordello-like gypsy stomper they did was rather obvious, but I could detect it in other songs, too. I am glad they decided to bring their kids along and bring their music to the east coast. Based on the audience response, there are some Lapelles fans to be won out east.
The And Company - This Massachusetts trio lost the awards for longest band name and largest group tonight, but they made up for that by delivering one of the more creative sets I have seen this month. The one constant was a keyboard/vocalist. The drummer added lead vocals and a bit of acoustic guitar while the third member also added vocals, acoustic guitar, some keyboards and percussion. They even set up a xylophone and brought out an accordion for one song. The songs were even more varied than the underlying instruments. The first few songs had a playful experimental pop quality to it not unlike a Philly band I like called Kelly and the Ruths. They came back to earth a bit for some of their songs and settled more into folk and folk-rock idioms. In fact, the acoustic guitar led songs were the weakest of the set. They were decent and may help give a bit of variety, but the keyboard led numbers really shined brightest. Vocal work also was of high quality as well. Both the songs and arrangements were clever. The modest crowd obviously agreed as they sounded about three times as loud as their actual numbers. It has been two years since a previous tour? I hope I don't have to wait that long for the next DC show.
Adrian Hardkor & the Bad Decisions - Adrian Hardkor is on acoustic guitar and vocals. His "bad decisions" led to being accompanied by an electric guitar, a bass and a violin (part of the time). They did a nice job rushing up on stage to get started ten minutes after the previous band as it was 11pm. You see people, there is a reason why I carp on the Velvet Lounge and DC9 to get their butts moving and get these shows started on time. It really is not fun watching people leaving the club during the final band's set. And at times I am joining them. Fortunately those that stayed, kept the hyper-enthusiasm going for this band's set. It was decent Americana-folk, although honestly I did not see enough in the arrangements to make me excited enough to want to go out of my way for this band. There is a kernel of good song writing here, so we will see what develops. I really missed the violinist when she left the stage. Perhaps the twangy country touches turned me off a bit. There is some talent here, so time will tell, I suppose.
Rant of the Night: I don't know how to say this delicately, but frankly I don't give a rat's ass about Amy Winehouse. Never did. I sometimes get "accused" of writing up a lot of positive reviews. Part of the reason is that I choose the shows I go to and don't get sent to see pompous, over-rated, over-priced major acts like Amy Winehouse. Even if the acts are not pompous, the press coverage is. I am never bothered when Husker Du, Sonic Youth or Nirvana go to big labels and on to arenas (well, not Husker Du) and there are plenty of huge, huge acts I respect, but I really wish more fans of celebrities would become fans of music, film or theater or whatever.
And if you want to discuss celebrity deaths, I will leave this column with a more positive obituary. GD Spradlin died recently at age 90. He is not a well-known name, but you've seen him in movies and will remember his richly unique southern accent if you take a look at his filmography. He was a very normal human being who led a full life and never entered Rehab or had any need.