Ski Lodge - I am hearing the Cure and, of course, the Smiths says my musical buddy for the evening. I was picking up on the Smiths, which happens frequently enough, but his Cure comparison may be even better (which frustrates me since I listened to the Cure more than I did the Smiths). But enough about us, this NYC quartet is led by Andrew Marr (yes, really) and has a perky pop styling with a nod to psychedelic and the occasional rock oomph. Warm and pleasant are the words that come to mind. The 35 minute set is almost a little too comfortable, but there last song contained a wildly surprising melodic shift that was as exciting as it was unexpected. Hopefully they can come up additional strong songs and a nice little band could become a must hear band.
Gringo Star - Second time around for me seeing this Atlanta based psyche-rock band. Again, they show great skill in digging deep into some of my favorite sounds with a thorough understanding of 1960s music and the crisp energy of a post-punk world. They have all the hooks and stellar vocal harmonies to present popsike material. Instead, they rev it up into full fledged rockers, but not to the point of jamming or distorting the lovely core of a sincere pop song. They are very similar to Jacco Gardner, but move to the heavier rock side of that equation. I even hear some of the Sadies in a couple of songs, which is a nice nod to the heartland without moving too far into that territory. Their recent album was fantastic and the live showcases the creativity there in more of an upfront raucous approach. The variety of vocalists and the mix of keyboard or two guitars keeps things lively and these guys keep the music coming even with the instrument switching. This is a class act all the way and if you have not explored them yet, then I suggest you do so. They had a great room full of fans at the Black Cat backstage, but I just don't see how the smaller settings can contain this highly accessible music.
Quote of the Night: From Gringo Star (nothing terribly exciting, but it reminds me of a Keith Relf Yardbirds bootleg moment)... "We appreciate you all being here. You're the most lovely audience."