Thomas Wyre - This duo starts off at drums and keyboard and begins with an electronic throb that somehow bores right in to the annoying lobe of my brain. They start playing quietly but then up the volume which drowns out the electronica. The relief is there and I now notice that this is quite the nice pop song. The electronics do begin to work thereafter as they enhance the sound in a positive way. He can play some decent piano and the drum work is solid. The vocals are strong and they do manage to carry these well written modern pop songs. Being that my web search has nothing jumping out at me aside from this show, I am guessing that this is a fairly new act. If so, they got a nice foundation started. Hopefully they will stay with it, control their sound a bit, and keep writing.
Sight Seeing - All the dead give-aways are here showing that we have another young band getting their start. The stage patter is nervous, while the songs have some glitches and some very rough endings. This five-piece is from Brooklyn and they attempt to play swirling shoegaze rock. They have a decent enough sound with strong rock drumming keeping it up-tempo. The downer vocals don't seem to match the positive music. It is a bit of a disconnect akin to Peter Murphy singing for the Joy Formidable. From one set of comments, we learned a lot... "I totally messed that song up." "No you didn't, you totally jammed it out." The truth was in between. If they work on their parts, rethink their approach, find their voice, they may get there. Tonight was a lesson.
(The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope - Tonight it is just a solo presentation of this long running band. The singer/guitarist band leader has always done some excellent work in the past as the band got its start here before moving to Philadelphia. He played electric guitar tonight and sang. It was a nice acid folk style in a steadier Syd Barrett sort of way. It had that outsdier feel, but his songs are good enough to handle the solo treatment, even if one misses the full band psychedelic assault. But this is much more affordable for the tour he is on with his brother whose band is up next.
Tennis System - I have seen this band many times as a DC band, but now it is the first time as a touring band from Los Angeles. I believe there are two core members with a couple of newcomers for me. They still play that strong psyche-shoegaze rock that they did so well for a few years here. I did hear some growth in the songwriting. A few of the newer songs had better pop hooks with the guitars allowing the vocals to breathe a bit and the rhythm section to push forward nicely. The band is growing nicely. As much as I love the full frontal guitar assault, it is nice to hear the positive changes that can pull a large audience in while maintaining the basic sound. And the many friends and fans that have not seen them in a while seemed to agree as the energy was good tonight. The crowd was a little small as the late hour may have sent some home, but it was a successful return for this enjoyable band. Hopefully they will continue to grow and become a solid touring band for both coasts and the vast in-between.
Quote of the Night: From the opener... "Thanks a lot for sticking around and stick around for the other bands." At first I chuckled, yes you are welcome for my 'sticking around' for all of 20 minutes. But then, his point touched on classic themes where audiences are still a bit too divided at times with friends coming to see their friends play and then wandering upstairs to the DJ or down the street for more drinking or whatever. It is nice to see the same faces at the start of the opener to the end of the closer. My reviews are filled with countless surprises discovered in opening bands or late in someone's set. I don't always stay for every minute either, but it is more often worth the effort to give a thorough test drive with something new.