Friday, February 10, 2012

The Max Levine Ensemble - Traveling - Spraynard -- Black Cat -- Feb 9 2012

Spraynard - A Westchester, Pennsylvania trio starts it off tonight backstage at the Black Cat. Aside from five of us, everybody moved up front without being asked--a rarity these days at smaller shows. Well this is a punk show with plenty of Xes on hands, so the energy should be up tonight. Earnest pop punk is the formula with clean vocals and quick power chords. Nothing terribly distinct here. They tell a story about dropping out of school to play a video game. The bass guitar goes out giving them more time to talk, making the need to mention they dropped out of school quite superfluous. This is one is for the kids, after all they are young guys. Well the guitarist has a rather natural tonsure developing that could lead to an audition with the Monks. Lah-dee-dah hardcore continues. 21 minutes later, they leave to a polite reception.

Traveling - Hmmm... Traveling from Bloomington, Indiana? Reminds me of the time I was watching THE Damon Bailey begin his famed career for Indiana U. It was in Maui and we all awaited the coming of the young man that local writer John Feinstein had made famous years before when he wrote that this 8th grader was coveted by major university basketball programs. Alas his first act with the ball matched the name of this band and his career did not get a whole lot better after that. But I digress... Seriously, this trio has got it working. They lay out 25 minutes of power-pop punk with enough pace and power to bring in the hardcore kids and good melodies to pull in the agressive pop-rock fans. The female guitarist handles the lead vocals nicely with the bass player assisting. Solid drums and we have a nice little band with a winning set. A little 'same old' in the song writing, but that would be more of a complaint in a longer set. I had fun, it seems we all did.


The Max Levine Ensemble - I don't think I have to write much more about this long standing local punk trio. They have put on a great set every time I have seen them, which is why I am back tonight. It has been a while and I am not quite clear in my memory of how I felt before, but very early on this set seemed like they were more on fire than ever. This was 30 minutes of intense power without losing sight of the many fine melodies in their songs. They sort of combined the earlier bands' styles and amped it up a couple of notches. The rhythm section was hyper energetic and roaring along with plenty of gutsy guitar work with even a bit of jangle in there. The crowd was into it and there was a lot of pogoing, which is always preferable to the macho mosh pit. And crowd surfing downstairs? That is a rarity, but understandable. Riff, melody, and the roar. This still works for me. I can imagine it worked for all the fans around the country that saw them on their recent tour. Nice to have them back and they are dong more shows around town.

Quote of the Night: From TMLE... "We would like to dedicate this song to out long time roadie who has been with us the last several weeks."

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