Blackbells - This 2-guitar four-piece comes from Brooklyn. I haven't written variations of that sentence at least a hundred times, eh? The sound is strong and the vocals are good and earnest. They seem to balance indie rock and mainstream rock evenly. The opener seemed pretty basic, but the second cut showed some skilled songwriting with interesting counterpoints and sneaky lead runs early in the song. Competent in the extreme, but sometimes a bit lost in the basics. Just when I begin to drift, they nail a nice original song to bring me back into their sonic world. The vocalist went back to join in on drums for one cut with the lead guitarist blasting away. These kinds of moves and the skillful songwriting elevated these guys beyond the mundane. There is a mainstream appeal that could either explode these guys into a strong fanbase, so it will be interesting to see if they can continue to improve their set. Creativity, hard work, exposure--all the usual stars will need to align. But for now, nice job.
Dead Meadow - This former local band, LA based for some time now, is finishing a tour with Black Angels that paired off two of the lesser known, but extremely exciting accessible psychedelic rock bands. It was only Dead Meadow tonight and again they still play to about 10% of the audience they deserve. But that 10% is a sharp crew that knows and appreciates how good this band is and their enthusiasm made for a fun night. The sinewy bass lines are there, as are the fuzzy guitars, appealing vocals, and some of the more powerful moderate tempos you will groove to. Their original drummer is back in and has not missed a beat. I found myself making an odd comparison to the Stooges 1st album--second side in particular. It is not exact, but there is a shared rudimentary beat that has some quiet intricate touches. The basslines have some similar moves, although there is more touch here. Add some wah-wah and you have quieter updates of "Ann" or "Little Doll". Anyway, that is my new take on this brilliant act for this evening. My only criticism is the lack of a new album. No doubt they will be roaring through again sometime soon with lots of new songs to devour. Hopefully Jason Simon's grandmother enjoyed the show as much as I did.
Quote of the Night: My own quote on the walk over... "What the hell is going on tonight?" Duh, it's Halloween--my memory grows shorter and shorter. It was nice to walk among the kids, as I have only had to open my door two times to trick or treaters in 30 years due to some remote or secure homes.