The Velvet Ants - I hear plenty of early Nirvana with a bit more of a Green Day push right out of the gate with this local twin-guitar quartet. Their second song has me falling out of my chair as it is a strong cover of the Wipers' "Telepathic Love". Were any of this band alive 32 years ago when this was recorded? I know only a couple of people in the audience were around with me then. It's not like the Wipers received any of their due on the radio or the charts, either. So kudos to these guys for finding this brilliant band that I lucked into from the very beginning and still hope to hear more from. The set continues on well enough. The guitarist is Roscoe Tanner who has far fewer forced errors than his namesake tennis player. Roscoe Tanner... really? Bizarre, but kudos to him for getting out of the hospital and doing the show even though he had to remain seated. They mentioned the bassist was filling in and perhaps with all that was going on, this was not their most powerful set, and maybe that Wipers tune distracted me too much as I was thinking of them for the rest of the set. And I did hear just a little too much Cobain at times for my comfort levels. Still, there are some excellent elements here and this is a band I would check out again.
The Unlikely Hero - Heavy rock here with some metal crunch that does not get all the way to metal but rocks very hard. The vocalist is great, although he is a bit more Steve Perry than Rob Halford, which would be a better fit. Early in the set I wonder if there are better component parts than a full band at work here. However, their enthusiasm and sense of fun won me over as they showed some skill in putting together enjoyable songs that are trying to stake out a little space in the vast musical planet. They are a work in progress but quite a bit of fun already.
The Good Fight - As Alex said in 'Clockwork Orange', "Ohhh? And what's so good about it?". I am still trying to figure that out here. These guys have plenty of energy and play agreeable pop-punk in the emo vein I suppose. There is some nice punch once in a while, although they really need to rehearse their endings. They had a few covers I think, one they said no one would recognize. I didn't either, aside from the chord progression which was lifted from the Dead Boys (or Rocket from the Tombs) "Sonic Reducer". This was good for the kids, but as Jack Rabid (of The Big Takeover magazine) said in a recent review, it is tough for those of us that grew up with punk in the late 70s to really find and enjoy a younger punk band today. But if you are young, you can do worse than this band.
Thaylobleu - If these guys had not invited me to the show, I may have called it a night prior to their set due to a busy schedule. That would have been one of the bigger mistakes I would have made in the past several weeks, as these four guys opened my eyes and ears immediately with some of the gutsier raw rock music I have heard lately. They clearly know the local scene as the second song was about the DC Space club where I saw Fugazi's fifth show many decades back. Sample lyric... "I don't remember much about it, but take me back to DC Space". Musically, is where these guys really shine. They play a tough ferocious brand of rock that reminds me more of Detroit than DC and could fit squarely in between the early scene featuring MC5, Stooges, and Death to the hardcore scene of the Fix and Negative Approach. This music is fierce, yet composed and calmly delivered. I fell it digging in deep as I formed a wry smile with every beat. The bass player plays a five-string with clever moves. The drummer is pounding away despite his seemingly effortless posture. The lead guitarist throws some creative shifts to keep my mind working while my body feeds off the volume. The singer and rhythm guitarist gives identity to each song and fills out the noise with skill and dexterity. Attention other clubs, this is the band I want to see opening up for the Mission of Burmas and Jesus and Marychains of the world. They will do more than hold their own when a powerhouse rock band comes into DC.
Quote of the Night: "That's Roscoe Tanner sitting here" Well maybe that threw me off more than the Wipers cut, as I never expected to hear those words said.