Hospitality - This Brooklyn band features a woman on vocals and guitar surrounded by three guys on guitar, bass and drums. The bass player is left-handed and plays a Hofner bass but looks more like a young Mike Watt than a young Paul McCartney. The drummer has some electronic device which unfortunately worked. Actually it was ok and not overly used, but the initial sound was some annoying feedback loop whose pitch seemed to really hit a discordant note in my head. Guitars a bit twangy with arty rhythmic moves going on. They twisted and turned with their songs and were best when they just let it go. They are new with their record not out yet, so it's good to get shows like this to get a feel for what works and what doesn't. But it was a bit too arty for me at times and ultimately the band reminded me more of the Shirts than the Feelies.
Love Inks - From the other music capital of America (Austin), comes this three-piece. The sparse line-up features a female vocalist, a guitarist and bass player with drum programs worked at the push of a button by the singer. This is not an immediately go out and grab you kind of sound. There is a lot of space the guitarist and bass leave for the singer to roam around in. They basically take a Joy Division approach to loungey blues singing. Kudos to the soundman for taking the reverb out of the mic for her stage patter and instantly getting it back to a nice level for the vocals. The sound was interesting and although the band did not appear to blow the crowd away, I think most of the people were intrigued. I enjoyed it.
Male Bonding - This London based quartet features a couple of guitars and lead vocals split among one of them and the bass player. They are immediate and rock out in a manner akin to the Buzzcocks and Fastbacks. Great pace and plenty of hooks clearly get the crowd of about 50 going tonight. But then careful listening reveals a lot more intriguing noisy, grungey things going on within the pop punk ditties. Like a well written novel, this band has a great power chord hook-laden presentation filled with loads of subcurrents and allusions. It's easy to get lost in the fun, but ultimately you realize there are more clever moves going on here than in other fun bands of this type. The band barely kept up for air and kept the songs coming not allowing for a lot of thought. The vocals were a bit too understated and sound a bit better in the studio. But that was the only complaint I had as this band was very impressive. No surprise that Subpop would find these guys and want to work with them. They definitely deliver that something extra that turns a good band into a great band.
Quote of the Night: From the crowd... "I'm more of a St. Paul man, myself."