The Jones - A power trio is up first. The guitarist sings lead and the others do a little backing vocal work. The sound is slow to moderate paced blues-rock in a classic no frills style. It reminds me of the straighter Groundhogs sound or Blue Cheer perhaps. The vocals are clean and not demonstrative which gives the songs a more personal and interesting touch. The rhythm section simply pounds things out in a steady fashion and the guitar work sometimes rises to some nice high points. This is a startlingly competent band. No nonsense, the pauses in the set were few. Do not be fooled by this "classic" genre, the band rocks and has just enough musical personality and creativity to where it is truly their band and not just some average bar band playing something you have heard for 45 years. Most of the 40 or so odd people here seemed to recognize this as well.
Dot Dash - Another local band is up next. This time, there is an additional guitar. The band had a nice power pop vibe working with the usual ringing guitars, driving beat and two-part pop vocal harmonies. At times I thought they lost the plot with the vocals, but most of the time the songs were brisk and interesting. I may recommend a few more dark/edgy songs to go with the positive sounding songs. I am referring to how the Buzzcocks do it. Ultimately, I did catch a couple of songs that had something else going on, so the band has it in them. This is a good band that is worth keeping an eye on.
Urge Overkill - This Chicago band is back and as a four-piece this time allowing the two original members (Nash Kato and Eddie Roeser) to stay on guitar throughout. It has been 15 years since they flamed out after their brief surprise success with the Neil Diamond cover song used in Pulp Fiction. Not surprisingly, that song did not make it in the set tonight, but there was plenty of room for lots of great music. For a band with a hardcore name and playing in the grunge era, they actually had more of an outsider reputation of playing their own odd brand of indie rock. That was on display tonight, but whether it was the new album or their mood, their music was a lot tougher than I expected. They rocked pretty hard and the new rhythm section was likely an important part of this. But Kato and Roeser lead the way by trading off their lead vocals with Roeser mostly adding some nice searing guitar parts. I was a bit surprised that the club was only about half full when I was expecting a sell-out (this is a good example of why I will never print predictions of expected turnouts). But the people here were big fans and the feedback was powerful. They even cheered quite hard for about four minutes when the band finally returned for an encore by saying "We thought you were kidding." They rewarded the fans with another 15 minutes on top of their hour long set. Welcome back guys, it looks like we all had fun tonight, so let's do it again some time.
Quote of the Night: Kato after a loud ovation after a song... "This is more than a pleasant surprise. This looks like, I don't know, a buck and a half more than we ever played to here before."