Monday, March 25, 2013

Lost Civilizations - Onward Chariots - Grogan Social Scene -- DC9 - Mar 24 2013

Grogan Social Scene - This is my first time catching this fine local band. Mr. Grogan leads things with guitar and lead vocals and is joined by bass, violin, drums and a conga percussionist. A couple guys help out on the vocal work as well. He tells me that they have evolved from a folkier outfit which now takes a more rock approach as the band has expanded. Both sounds are apparent as this music quickly transports me back to the very early punk days when there were many bands picking up on Velvet Underground records and taking off from there with primitive energy of their own. I am thinking Mirrors with maybe some Feelies in here as well. The instruments lock together and grind it out in a deep folk-rock vein with the violin offering nice colorful passages over and above. The vocal work is good and the lyrics sound interesting on first listen. There is just enough askew with even a touch of menace underneath, definitely in the manner of Lou Reed. This 39 minute set motored along in a fully engaged manner. I am liking this band and hope to watch for further growth, as there is plenty of room for this thoughtful approach to raw and intriguing music.

Onward Chariots - They mentioned that it was fun to be on stage in such a diverse climate between a twisted Americana band and an improv outfit. And it was fun for me as well, as this New York four-piece offered its take on urban pop. I would like to think I would have sensed the very urban qualities to their pop music even had I not known where they were from. This sunshine has to work its way through tall buildings with the music containing that urban edge that we city dwellers all develop. But it is still pop music and is fun with the extra levels of quirkiness that this band offers. The lead vocalist often switched from guitar to keyboards which allowed for different feelings in the many songs they delivered. They would rock it out at times or go into a Jonathan Richman brand of innocent oddness now and then. There was some straight up power pop as well, and although not as Nuggets oriented, I can see this band opening for the Fleshtones. Too bad that the bad weather on a Sunday night kept things lightly attended, but they did win over some fans based on the reaction during their 39 minute set. I am having fun going back to days of innocence.
Lost Civilizations - They were only a two-piece tonight with saxophones on one side of the stage and electric upright bass on the other. It was four members last time, so of course things are stripped down quite a bit. But that just gives the guys more room to fill with their inventive improvisations. That is the modus operandi for this collective--put good musicians up on stage and turn them loose into unknown improvisational directions. The bass work used some loops which created some nice rhythms and ambiance while the saxophone added color and melodic runs in a mannered pace. I finally got my wish to hear a band without distracting conversation around me, but unfortunately it was due to bands needing to drive home early (one to NYC) and other people scared off with the miserable weather. I appreciated this nearly private concert as this skilled duo allowed me to drift off into a break from conventional musical formats. This was a great way to finish off six nights in a row covering live music. Palate cleansing is something that becomes important to me (provided there is still plenty of taste as there was tonight). This show reminded me that I should integrate more jazz into my club outings. And as if by magic, they ended their set after 39 minutes, leaving me refreshed and cleansed. Do check out this band some time. It will do you good and is cheaper than a session at the spa.

Quote of the Night: Lyrics from the song "Mel Gibson" by Onward Chariots... "Please don't abuse your wife or blame the Jews for your life."

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