Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Grey Area - 19th Street Band -- Strathmore Mansion - Feb 9 2012

19th Street Band - I need to start paying more attention to the Strathmore. Their Friday Night Eclectic series is a nice outlet for local bands and the venue is fun to hang out in as there is a bar for those in need or want, but there are also relaxing rooms to hand out in, often with an art show exhibited. The stage is nice with reasonable room to view/dance or whatever, and the crowds have been strong the two times I have been here. First up is local trio that combines Appalachian folk, Irish barroom, Americana, and a touch of bluegrass/country into an appealing mix. You cannot fault their enthusiasm and their playing is also up to the task. The violin (ok, fiddle then) comes across nicely as does the stand-up bass. The acoustic guitar sometimes gets a bit lost in the mix, but it is mostly use to bang out the chords keeping a rhythm going. They all take some leads with the Irish born guitarist getting the lion's share. I kind of wished for a touch more Irish in the sound, but that is their choice. They went a bit long for me at over an hour, but they did a really nice job and I probably would not have complained about that except I have a sore throat and I think I'm getting something. Bottom line -- a fun barroom weekend combo here.
The Grey Area - This local rock duo features full bodied electric guitar/vocals with drums. The psyche-rock guitar moves and pummeling drums is pretty much cooked to order for me. They throw a lot of curve balls early which is impressive for a duo. It is part in the songwriting and part in the guitarist controlling his sound nicely. The vocals remind me of someone -- well, maybe  a light Feargal Sharkey (Undertones). There are others like this and I only wish I could remember them. Along with the shifts of sound, the drummer moves the tempo around nicely and the songs create their own little world nicely. I lean toward the heavier and I particularly like the psyche-prog workouts that are not ridiculously heavy, but rather crafty in their execution. Some of the lighter songs have a nice dance feel which is always good for a Friday night show. The crowd was enthusiastic and some of the shape shifting songs have me interested in seeing this band continue to develop. I did miss one extra instrument at times, either a booming bass or an offsetting keyboard or flute, but some songs had enough going on with the effects off the guitar to make it work. Keep an ear on these two.

Obituary of Note - I was glad to see that the Washington Post had a nice obituary for artist Mike Kelley this week. He was known for his art, but I will always recall his formation of an interesting band called Destroy All Monsters. They were from Detroit and began, like the Stooges, by playing vacuum cleaners and other appliances at odd art-rock shows. Kelley and others left as the band added Ron Asheton of the Stooges and Michael Davis of the MC5 and obviously became more rock oriented. I caught this version a couple times live as they were a nice bridge from the old Detroit scene and the burgeoning punk scene in the midwest around 1980-81. So thanks for all your work, Mike Kelley.

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