Chomp Chomp - It is a guy and his laptop... First the positives: he did have a house light show going; the first cut had a really fun goofball sense of sugary pop to it that did invoke a smile; and the music was relatively competent all set. Still, it is watching a guy bob his head and shake his body to his laptop. I noted that a two handfuls of people were up bopping around a bit, but dozens more were clustered about in their own conversations, treating it as background music. While I rail about this if a folk (or even rock) act is going on, it is more understandable with music by computer. OK, enough of the ongoing editorial, it was fine for what it was, which was an effective warm-up in the early hours of a big night.
Honest Haloway - We continue with a local trio in this night of local acts. The guitarist switches to keyboards some while working electronics and synth with guitars that are treated heavily so that it is all smooth and consistent with their overall sound. That sound reminds me of the thicker side of New Order with decent pulsating pop moves and even better vocals here. Good rhythms, decent melodies, this is a likable band that I would be happy to see on a variety of bills. The crowd had built into a decent Friday night mass, raring to go, and Honest Haloway got them involved and excited. Always a pleasure when you get the vibe deep into a bill.
Black Hills - I don't have any record of seeing this band, but I have heard of them so it is high time to check out what these four guys can do. They have dual keyboards with guitar and drums. The ending impression I had with this band was how versatile they were with this set up. They pushed forward a unique focus on different instruments and sounds in the many varieties of songs they had. The vocals were smooth and classy and held it all together within their personality. At times it was rather light dream pop, while other times the guitar and drums galloped along pushing it into heavier rock territory. There were some songs that were utterly majestic in the same way a Dead Can Dance song can be transcendent. They don't quite hit that level of heaven (few do), but at least a couple songs had me saying 'wow'. More of that, please as I rather like soaring beyond the confines of the earth. Even the lesser cuts showed a class band at work, so this is a reminder of how much work I have to do to keep up with the local scene--and proof to everyone to catch these local showcases in between seeing your favorite touring bands.
Me and Karen - This is only the third show from this new duo, but their first as a trio as they have recruited a live drummer. The 'Me' is the guitarist from the band Oh So Peligroso, so it is no surprise to hear that it is his old drummer providing the fresh and invigorating beats that only (good) live drummers can give. There are plenty of electronics at work although often two guitars are employed, which is great for those of us that like a heavier sound. In fact, it got so heavy that there times I was reminded more of a blistering progressive band like Goblin more than that of an electronic pop rock band that may be their more convenient label. They have excellent vocals that help carve a distinct shape to their songs and mix up a lot of sounds to make it all come together. The crowd was still enjoying the music and were quite forgiving of the technical mishaps that slowed a few songs down. I am very forgiving as with just two of them in front of the drums, they were working hard to play a lot of instruments live while working the backing electronics. This was a fun set, quite raw with a band in its infancy, but tonight proved the materials are there them to succeed.
Quote of the Night: And we are down to our last ten in our continuing series of the nastiest musician on musician insults, courtesy of Tom Hawking...
10. Ian Brown on Bono
“He’s such a fake, isn’t he? When he did Live Aid, which made them a worldwide group … he looked out and [saw] that black girl in the middle of all them people, and she’s from Hackney or something, and he was like, ‘Here’s a great shot for me around the world to show I’m Mr Africa.’ It’s like colonialist times with a big white hat.”