Sam Cooper & the Sleepwalkers - The first of four local acts that get the mainstage at the Black Cat and the turnout thus far seems to justify using the larger venue. I have not seen these guys before, but they are lead by a vocalist who alternates between piano and guitar. Guitar bass and drums fill out the sound on this somewhat classic singer songwriter material that clearly rocks more than it heads toward folk. Good vocals, clean melodies, but I am thinking that maybe there is not enough distinction for this to stand out. Correction, they have some inventive guitar fills and some almost dirge like rhythms allowing some interesting downstage moves. All in all, these guys took a comfortable format and added enough personality to their quality songs and delivered a decent set.
Mittenfields - The three-guitar attack is back with a rhythm section and vocals as well. The formula is shoegaze, but it is always a question of where a band takes that sound. At their worst, Mittenfields blast away with some nice sound. At their best, they prove themselves to be capable songwriters where the combination of sound and song can create some magical moments. The key is where they add some Byrds-like jangle to the the more stereotypical shoegaze sounds. There are times when you can hear three guitars doing interesting things that relate, which can challenge 3-guitar bands, but they pull it off more often than not. A solid local band that had it working tonight.
Teen Mom - I am not sure this trio is placed particularly well on this billing between a couple of thick shogaze styled bands, but they still managed to chip in a nice little set. They have sharp little pop moves with dreamy vocals that had a bit more reverb to them than needed. It got a little too samey in the middle of the set, but they sharpened it up a bit and went over nicely by set's end. I have liked them more in the past, but I think it was more the surrounding than too much wrong with their approach or their songs.
Drop Electric - This was the first time I saw these six local musicians known as Drop Electric. They start with two female vocalists singing atop some electronics in a sonic plane somewhere near the Cocteau Twins or Dead Can Dance maybe. The full band next comes out and lays on the shoegaze with plenty of subtle dynamic shifts ala Mono. There is a goth chill in the air with these vocals and they can be quite dazzling at times, whether its moodily sung verses, or background wailing. Some bands sound like they are making their version of Ennio Morricone soundtrack music, but this band covers a more updated Goblin approach with a real eerie feeling present through much of this. They also remind me of Bardo Pond in some respects. No real breaks in the set which is a nice touch, just subtle shifts covering the seams between songs well. The club was about half full and they came alive for this set. This band, along with the first two tonight, are all headed to Mecca, make that Austin, so hopefully they will have a great experience and the novice listeners (like myself tonight) should be rewarded with a strong assured band.
Quote of the Night: Heard on the street... Oedipus was never so funny... "heh-heh-heh, killed my father, heh-heh, raped my mother, heh-heh-heh..."