Troll Tax - This local band tells us their name is wrong and they are actually Robo Superstar. Ooookay, that and other inside jokes sail right over my head. I hope their friends are enjoying the stage patter as little of it makes any sense here. Fortunately, when the music kicked in, they were quite good... until that fell apart. The guitar, bass, and drums laid down a foundation of brisk garage punk. That left room for dual vocalists, male and female, to playfully spar while a keyboard dotted the i's and crossed the t's. They really nailed a Rezillos sound with the vocals and pop-punk hooks, while one song had a guitar solo straight from the Pete Shelley soundbook. This never goes out of style when it works well and over half of this set was excellent. They had some equipment snafus, a couple of lesser songs, and also started switching instruments creating a situation where the drums could have been better played by about half the audience. I don't know if switching instruments really adds much in most cases or just lets musically talented drummers get a chance on guitar. Still, I do not want to lose focus on this being a fun band with lots of good qualities. Hopefully they can find a way to keep their breezy attitude as they tighten up a bit.
Magik Markers - This is the fourth time I have seen this intense trio, now from Northampton, MA I hear from my sources up there. They have come a long way from that first tour with Sonic Youth in 2004. Back then, they impressed the large crowd with the energetic and intense focus of Elisa Ambrogio and her band. They have taken that start and focused it into an even stronger musical vision, that although draws on a lot of the NYC No Wave movement like Swans and Suicide, easily remains something personal and profound. They retain their intensity while moving with it into drones that shine with crackling drum beats, odd guitar moves, and vocals that pull back and thrust forward with equal drama and passion. Quite unlike the Swans, they continue to do this in short sets--playing for 42 minutes tonight. But that seems right to me as they allow you to focus on every song, such as the opener which sounds like Bardo Pond's hit single that they will never write to the closing guitar noise and rhythmic throb. Not every music lover has it in them to link up with music like this, but the crowd tonight did and the Magik Markers continue to reach those distant points that make for such satisfying connections.
Quote of the Night: From E.A.... "Accuracy and professionalism--these are two words when said, you immediately think of Magik Markers."