The Reserves - I saw this band about a month ago at the Black Cat (reviewed here) and they did another solid job tonight. It was nice to see two things tonight at the Velvet Lounge. First, this band went on at 9:28pm. Second, they only booked two bands, so not only was there a decent start time, but they had plenty of time to play and get off and on the stage. The Reserves took advantage of this by offering a full 53 minutes of their original singer/songwriter, Americana, light bar rock. The keyboards provided some unique atmosphere and the player had some pretty good skill on display in addition to his smart interpretative moves. The guitarist/vocalist did remind me a bit of the National as mentioned last month, but also had a bit of a Richard Buckner tone that was clearer in this cozier environment. This was mannered rock music, but very fitting in a club on a rainy Saturday night. The only thing I would want to see in the future is a bit more variety in pace or tone in a couple of the songs to shake up the set a little. But you cannot argue with the overall quality here.
Round About - This the first time I have been able to take in this area band, although I did enjoy hearing their new record which I reviewed here. This was their CD release party and although the rain kept the walk-in crowd to a minimum, the 20-25 people here had a great time tonight. Instead of keyboards as the unique instrument, it was acoustic guitar here adding to the G-B-D (my code for the core rock instrumentation). The acoustic guitar kept the rhythm going allowing plenty of high quality lead guitar work. And since they played for excess of 80 minutes, it certainly helped to have a great guitarist in the band. But the songs are also strong enough to stand out from the pack of indie rock bands. There are certainly a couple of gems on the record, and the band brought them to life nicely here tonight. This is all pretty smart material here and man-for-man, the band has the chops to keep a good long set going. Again, this is fine bar music for a Saturday night. With the two bands tonight, you will not get anything near what the Bad Brains delivered in their prime (but that also goes for 99% of the bands you will see at this and similar sized clubs). But, this is 2012 and you will get quality original music delivered in a fun and even exciting manner from these types of shows. If you want to see the big acts, fine, just save some money and budget some time for shows like this. I think all of the couple of dozen people tonight would join with me in this sentiment.
Quote of the Night: "You guys are doing a pretty good job at sounding like 50 people, but..."
As long as 15-20 people make it to the Velvet Lounge and are having a good time, it will indeed feel like a packed house.