Fell Types - Smallish crowd on hand for this local trios first notes. I immediately close my eyes as this sounds quite familiar. And when I did, the voice of Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon connected with what I was hearing. Musically, it was thick and rocking not unlike Sonic Youth, although the guitar work was a bit less than Ranaldo/Moore. That is hardly a complaint considering the lofty status of those two especially on the creativity scale. When the guitarist took over lead vocals, his mid-range voice reminded me of the Rezillos for some odd reason, but musically they were more thick rock/post punk in style. The more uptempo cuts worked best for me as they were able to create some exciting music where it sounded like more than three people (and I did not detect loops or recordings). Slower material more predictable and at times in want of more control and transition. Still, there is some fine raw material here and it was easy to get into the 30 minutes of noisy rock they provided.
Troll Tax - The crowd has swelled from 30 something to 50 and maybe 60 at times. And speaking of the Rezillos... Side Note: It never ceases to amaze me how bands will remind me of older bands that I don't think of for years at a time. I never even owned a Rezillos record, although I often played them on the college radio station I worked at since 1979-80. But back to Troll Tax... These five players had that early raw danceable punk sound that the Rezillos and some early UK and LA bands did quite well. In fact the soundman working tonight also picked up on that asking me if we have gone back to 1975-80 or thereabouts. The band was fun even when things seemed kind of disconnected and did not gel into a full band sound. The spirit was always willing and that early sense of punk rock that was about just cutting loose and letting the music and dance moves fly was something the audience keyed in on. The energy was there and the crowd stayed with it. The band was funny with a dark side and is worth checking out some time if you want to just want to cut loose.
The Shondes - I recall seeing the Klezmatics, a radical klezmer based band, in Denver years back. A very straight-laced guy at work told me he had seen me at the show. He and his wife were klezmer fans, but were not quite expected the crazed rock and jazz crossover music the Klezmatics did, but they liked it. The Shondes are not going to fool quite as many klezmer fans into going to their shows, but they do take their Jewish klezmer roots quite seriously from what appears. What comes out is far closer to great pop-punk songs than anything traditional, but tradition is a part of their core. They have the added bonus of a violin joining in with guitar/bass/drums/vocals which gives them their unique flavor. The other key was that unlike moments in the first two sets, the band is locked in and really nail a unified sound. The bass player's lead vocals are quite stunning and easily yank a listener in from any complacency they may have. It was funny to hear them apologizing for the 2-3 sad/downer songs they played as they vowed that they always try to put an upbeat one immediately afterward, so they asked us to bear with them. Yes, such a sacrifice for us to make. the 45 minutes roared by and the crowd was doing some real enthusiastic dancing and were having a great time. We all need fun shows like we had tonight, especially me as those that know me certainly know of my love of doom and gloom art. The Shondes are back to New York for a brief Passover break, but will be doing more extensive touring supporting their recent album (reviewed here). I think this is the type of band like the Screaming Females where extensive roadwork will lead to steadily rising fan base.
Quote of the Night: from the guitarist of Fell Types... " I was passing out flyers after the Wild Flag show at the 9:30 Club. There were a lot of people in their 40s and 50s giving me odd looks as they were out for their one show that year/month and they are not here tonight. But one person said, 'wow the Shondes are playing--surprising that it is that close to Passover', so at least one person here knows what they are about."