Black Checker - It is power trio night tonight at the Velvet Lounge, a club I have been quite remiss in visiting in recent months as I mentioned to the doorman who said he had not seen me in a while. But they are hosting three fine local bands tonight where I need to get an update in form from many previous shows over the years. First up is the power pop power trio. Black Checker has the pace in the rhythm and the crunch in guitar along with clean vocals to always make for a fun live set. Their songs are sharp and they even had a Bowie tribute tonight with a cover of 'Queen Bitch', which invariably succeeds in just about anyone's live set. It was also great to see a big crowd tonight and an early weekend start with everyone there and raring to go. Fine start.
Feral Conservatives - Only the second time for me with this rootsy power trio, that you can't help but recognize. The rhythm section looks like any other but the lead singer straps on an electric mandolin for the entire set. She uses it so well, you wouldn't know it if you were looking right at it, but something would nag at you with their sound as there is a subtle difference. She plays solid rock rhythms and even cuts clever leads that feature more of a soft delicacy than that of most electric guitar solos. The vocals invoke a bit of bluesy roots, but fit comfortably in any rock world as well. The drums are strong and the bass runs are gutsy and help a lot in covering for the lack of a guitar. This band can be welcomed on a wide variety of bills and you will want to pay attention when they appear at your show.
French Admirals - The third power trio is more of an indie rock power trio with pop moves, a good driving rock rhythm and decent songwriting with heartfelt vocals pushing it all forward. They are struggling mightily as it appeared that the pedal box was dead for the guitarist. They finally gave up on it and pushed forward with what started as a thick muddy sound. Between the guitarist and the fine sound crew and system here, they achieved enough clarity with their raw set up. After a few songs, it was almost fun to hear a down and dirty sound, even if it didn't always fit the band's specific song of choice. But it worked just fine for their Guided By Voices cover, which was they probably don't even know has strong ties with me and my old Dayton days. I am sure I will catch them again when they are happier with their equipment and I look forward to their continual introduction of new songs as they move forward on a second album to come out later this year. Although I need to cut down on shows, it is hard to beat a really good local showcase like this at a small club with a great PA and a low door price.
More Nancy fun, this time decidedly not from Ernie Bushmiller.