Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jello Biafra + the Guantanamo School of Medicine - Sick Weapons - The Kominas -- Black Cat - March 30 2010

The Kominas - I didn't know a thing about this four piece and thought they were first going in a ska punk direction, but then some other worldly styles were weaving in and out of the rock. Well, turns out they are a Muslim/Hindu combo out of Boston with a unique approach to punk. Not as radical as it may sound, but different enough to stand out from the sludgy ocean of punk in this century. I enjoyed it and thankfully the guitarist got his glasses back after he went out in the crowd and was head bobbing enough that a disaster was imminent. This band is worth a look.

Sick Weapons - Did I mention something about a sludgy ocean of punk. Well wade right out and watch for the tide smacking you on the rebound. Nothing really connected with me. No complaints, just muddy punk rock that did not have enough bite for me to take notice. The female singer reminded me of the VKTMS singer which I mention because it would probably piss Jello off to hear this controversial SF band mentioned. But that was the only amusing thought I had during this set. Well amusing to me, anyway.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine - I last saw Jello in Denver doing a spoken word set before a full house packed together waiting to see the excellent Slim Cessna's Auto Club (Denver band on his label). The crowd really didn't want to hear 30 minutes of political ranting and old monologues and it did not go well. Before that I saw him at the Black Cat with the Melvins providing more than excellent back-up for him to do the old DK set correctly, unlike the other guys and Bill Bixby's "son". I wasn't sure this band could be anywhere near that one, but was pleasantly surprised. Of course, we'll get the rants and that's ok. In between criticisms of Republicans and Obama and others, he was wisely self critical saying that maybe we all need to march in larger numbers than tea partyers. But back to the music. It was a two guitar attack with two brothers in the rhythm section. They delivered the expected punk rock attack but the pace varied nicely and there some psyche, post punk moments as well. I found it more listenable than anything the DKs did since the early days. Oh, and those were covered with the first two singles and one cut from the first album. I was also happy to see him moving around so well this time around with his serious knee damage. Jello is still worth a listen when the mood strikes.

Quote of the Night: From the middle band - "Why don't you stop talking so much", "Well play a song, then".

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Escape Artist - Caverns - Thought and Memory - Pilot Cloud -- Velvet Lounge - March 28 2010

Pilot Cloud - This Philadelphia duo offers live drums and guitar with some computer generated sounds and recordings. As is often the case from this set-up, the sound is a nice swirling shoegaze with psyche elements. The guitarist does sing a lot and actual songs do emerge from the sound which scores points for me. Two of the last three songs were quite excellent showing me that this duo, who clearly can play, have enough song writing chops to do well. Nice set.

Thought and Memory - I don't think of seen such an array of sizable amps and equipment at the Velvet Lounge and I have seen Ghost here. Two guitars, a bassist, a drummer and no vocals for this NYC outfit. I am hearing Mogwai in their sound big time. Good atmospherics and power. I like the bass lines particularly but it is all good. They don't do the subtle building of say, Mono, but they cover the gamut with more abrupt moves. Good sounds. Oh, and I liked the drummer's Social Distortion shirt featuring their first 12" ep whose songs grace my Ipod (where I only put the best). Of course, I highly doubt he was born when this was released.

Caverns - I have not seen this trio in some time which had me missing them more. They did more older material as opposed to the songs on the new ep, but it still sounded great. They still possess the magical skill of mixing a skilled pianist with a shredding guitarist and powerhouse drummer like no others. Maybe someone out there comes close to this sound, but no one does it quite this way. They play off each other well and I hope their full US tour coming soon exposes them to a lot of people that will agree with me. This band is an absolute must, at least to test drive if you are not willing to dive in and enjoy.

The Escape Artist - A second local band for us tonight. Two guitars, bass, drums and vocals primarily by one guitarist but with lots of backup vocals in the mix. I was first thinking indie rock, but it was much too heavy for even that broad label. I eventually sensed more of the mid-80's DC post-hardcore scene that after a time culminated in Fugazi. I heard more Gray Matter stylings in this band with plenty of shifting sounds and modern touches as well. A very nice set by a band that should be a mainstay in the DC Scene.

Quote of the Night: from some bar conversation... "I'm poorer than you... more poor... I'm more poorer than you!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Moody Blues -- DAR Constitution Hall - March 26 2010

The Moody Blues - Bring on the heat. I am a serious Moody Blues fan and make no apologies. Although I find most of their music in the last 20 years only a little better than most of you, all their early material is high quality music that has plenty of psychedelic and interesting progressive moves within the expected pop hooks. The band is down to three original members. Hayward and Lodge look in very good shape and are still solid players. They don't get any guest help on the axes aside from a bit of acoustic guitar from a female backup singer and keyboardist. Grahame Edge is still around on drums and is helped by a heavy hitter on a second drum kit. They have a full time keyboardist they have used for years and another female backup singer and flautist. So no heavy duty orchestras here, just a solid delivery of songs balancing their long career. The first three albums of the Hayward lineup is the best and there were three songs from Days of Future Passed, the two hits and a snappy "Peak Hour". Only the expected "Ride My Seesaw came from Lost Chord, which is a shame as it is probably their best album. But two cuts off the underrated Children's Children album were a nice surprise. "Gypsy" was the highlight of the night for me with its strong vocal work and deep and dirty undercurrent with a soaring mellotron leading the way out on the journey. Grahame Edge drummed as if his drum heads were eggshells and left the heavy hitting to his partner. But he kept the beat, was the most affable on the microphone, and turns 69 in 6 days. So all the power to him. The mix was odd at times with vocals and drums clear with the main instruments weaving in and out at odd volumes at times. The fans were scary as hell to me. An older crowd for sure, but not too ancient. The enthusiasm they displayed had me cowering as much as I do at an energized hardcore show. Utterly fascinating, but more so in that it got me thinking why is this the aberration and the lazy too hip club show crowds the norm? No one here was carrying on long winded dull conversations while the bands were playing. There was not a surfeit of cell phone texters blinding me while the band played on. Well, there were two around me, proving that this is a useless gripe as it has infiltrated the world and won.  I was not expecting a mind numbing exciting ride tonight, but they delivered good songs with a couple of surprises and I will still wear a chip on my shoulder if anyone has a problem with that.

Observation: Don't just take my word for it. My friend Carl Hanni out of Tucson has a blog entry on his support for the Moody Blues which you can read here. He is a published poet and runs a publicity business and does consulting. While I am on that subject, I also have to give props to another publicity business out of Los Angeles called  Inktank who appears to do a great service to the bands they work with. They certainly keep me informed. I am not sure what they think of the Moody Blues.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Record Reviews - March 2010
Caverns has been a very exciting band in the DC area for the last couple years. I recall first listening to "Remasculator" on my computer with its heavy metal shredding and drumming and an oddball piano lurking around the chords. I hunted down all open computer programs thinking I had two audio feeds going at once, until I finally "got it". They basically combine a few distinct ideas in a very heavy sound and create instrumental magic. Caverns is still the same three guys on guitar, drums and piano, but they have a few tricks for this four song ep. Since there are only four songs, let's cover them one by one. 
The very name of the first cut, "Arctic Phantoms", conjures up thoughts of progressive rock and that is sort of what we have with this six minute opener. There is some electronica and some very steady movements that have a little of the majestical progressive feel. This kind of song writing helps deliver instrumental music in large doses(no vocals in any of the last eps).
"Surprise!" has a quiet opening and moves into heavyland quite easily with a lot of their signature moves and some King Crimson like dissonance. Not so much dissonance as odd jazz-rock moves that may sound odd at first, but work extremely well.  
"I. Fight. Vampires" has the coolest melody lead by the piano over the steady drums and counterpoint guitar. Great piano work and some electronics. Is that a vocal line distorted in there? Well, it still sounds instrumental enough. This is a strong song that crosses a lot of genres. Very heavy rocking moves, delicate pop sense, kind of a swaying dance feel. Strong song.
"December 21, 2012" sounds like it could be on their previous excellent ep, "Kittens". It is the heavies piece with that wonderful piano working it's magic snaking in between the guitar and drums. I look forward to more great things from this band.

Record Reviews - March 2010

Washington DC's own Imperial China has released their second record, this time a full length player featuring nine exciting songs. The band immediately hit me with a strong Gang of Four sound, only with a guitar that was tougher in the mix. They work this style well, but vary it with rhythmic industrial sounds, post-punk slo-core, world music and much more. It is always a strong, aggressive sound and they succeed in creating different atmospheres with tempo shifts and adept song writing. I even hear some of the industrial dance sound which I first heard with my good friends, Dementia Precox, in the Dayton, Ohio scene of my youth. But don't let the old school memories think that you have heard this before. There is such a mix of styles clearly rooted into a unified sound, that you should give this your attention and enjoy it for the strong record it is.

They play the Velvet Lounge this Friday and have shows planned in May, so check out the live sound as well.

Individual song highlights:
All that is Solid - A powerhouse Gang of Four styled rocker that will awaken you to all the excitement to come.
A Modern Life - I really like that the rhythm causes bodily tension as you tap your toe to this infectious beat.
Go Where Airplanes Go - Do I detect some African Blues here? More creativity that fits their overall sound and is not merely a kitchen sink approach.

The Ruby Suns - Toro y Moi -- Black Cat - March 24 2010

Toro y Moi - The back stage filled quickly with a surprisingly excited crowd pushing forward. It's a little unusual to find such enthusiasm for an opening act, but refreshing. This is a one-man act with a singer playing some keyboards and electric guitar with loads of samples and drumbeats working with him. Very lush pop kind of reminding me of the Eurythmics crossed with Animal Collective. Great vocals and some nice mellotron/organ like sounds in the mix. The rhythms pulsated with a bit more pop than usual and the songs were well constructed. Some light psyche moves and a touch of shoegaze completed this delectable stew. The crowd dug it and I surprised myself by enjoying it as well.

photo: Bradley Fafejta 
The Ruby Suns - This trio is located in New Zealand, although they are lead by a Californian singer/guitarist/keyboardist. He is joined with a percussionist and a bass player/keyboardist. I think there was more sampling and knob fiddling than keyboard playing in this set. It was also strange that when they strapped on the guitar and bass, the sound did not change much at all form the lush pop music they created earlier sans axes. The songs did have a vitality to them, although it got a little "samey" for me after a while. They do have a nice cult following, and a Subpop label connection doesn't hurt that, but I was not overwhelmed. I did enjoy the band and would recommend them to people who like the modern pop sound. They do have something to offer in this world.

Quote of the night: from the crowd- "I got to drink all day... disappointing."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Magik Markers - Buildings -- Black Cat - March 21 2010

Buildings - I last saw this trio at the Sockets Records showcase and thought they were the highlight of the night. Nothing tonight changes my opinion, but rather firmly enhances it as I think this is one of the finer bands in the area. The drumming is powerful, the bass playing fast and adept and the guitarist lays down circular rings of melody. I would not say the music is as complex as what they call "math rock" but it may well be. There are layers of interesting sounds created and I kept listening for overtones, space between sounds and all that sort of jazz and it really did add up to more than a sum of its parts. Or more simply, hyper-Mission of Burma sans vocals. Listen to it the way you like, you will be rewarded on some level, that I can guarantee.

Magik Markers - Again a second viewing of this band. The lineup seems stable with the traditional three piece lineup. There has been a buzz about this band for some time and they are showing why early on here. The sound is very PiL-like, first album variety, with driving rhythms and jagged, noisy guitar and high pitched vocals on top. The sound merges into Hawkwind/Sabbath territory as the set moves on. They do a nifty cover of the Bob Seger System's "Rambling, Gambling Man" and then kind of stall a bit and end the set a bit early by my feel without looking at a clock. A little shambolic and anti climactic at the end, but some very good music early on. So I will continue to endorse this band even if I didn't feel their full impact tonight.

Quote of the night: Some fan during the opening set... "Is this yoga?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Air - AM -- 9:30 Club - March 17 2010

AM - AM is a singer/songwriter/guitarist who is accompanied by a keyboardist and a percussionist. I immediately hear dreamy pop and continue to listen to whether it will go deeper into shoegaze. It may have veered there a bit, but it stayed in closer to pop with some nice psyche undertones. The percussionist did a great job combining hand-hit bongos with mallet-struck floor toms along with other cymbals and such. It was a nice backdrop for these excellent pop songs. The thing that really made the set was the slight dark undercurrent of the keyboards countering the guitar melodies and hopeful dreamy vocals. Many acts go for the lush shoegaze or dreampop sound which is certainly fine when they succeed. But I find songs like these to be far more compelling with the contrasting elements underneath successfully pulling the song together on the whole. A really good set that the crowd who were slowly filling the club seemed to enjoy as much as I did.
My Photos | Air
Air - I was thinking between sets how hard it is to get two acts that only have five letters between them. A good punk show could be had with my good friends, DOA playing with DI. Maybe Om could open for Dio in the metal world, but you won't see this too often. Wordplay aside, Air is an electronica duo from Paris, France. I am instantly pleased that they have a live drummer on tour with them. Perhaps it is just me, but it seems there are a lot more electronic artists veering away from exclusively relying on drum machines for live shows which I think is a very good thing. I may be way off, as I don't follow electronica thoroughly, but I know I like the trend I see in my world. One of the duo stayed on keyboards and most vocals while the other rotated heavily between bass and acoustic guitar with the occasional keyboard and added vocals throughout. This was also heavily in the dream pop realm, but really excited me with a lot of progressive moves and even a jazz feel at times. A few of the faster numbers had motortik style drumming and along with Kraftwerk moves, there was a lot of krautrock elements here. At first, I thought it would merely be a decent act, but by the end of the set, they won me over easily. Again, the diversity of sounds and styles was the winning formula. The songs were accessible with some killer hooks and were tough to resist. Great show.

Quote of the Night: from the thickly accented Air guitarist... "The next song we will sing together. ok? It's a French song, you all speak French, right?"   Cute, since the only vocals in the song were whistles.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Megadeth - Testament - Exodus

Exodus - They came out to Dead Can Dance blaring on the PA and I wonder how few people in the crowd recognized that. Then the five-piece metal band kicked it in in a thrash metal style made popular out west where they are from and in New York. The music was simple and assertive with predictable traded leads. In fact, I found myself watching the other guitarist before his lead began trying to guess the moment and the moves. What truly marred this average set was the singer being the cliched asshole that pushes me over the edge. This piece of shit stalks the stage and uses every moment between songs to whine about how everyone was just standing around and not moshing and killing each other (his words). He successfully got some of the sheep to fall in line, but continued whining the whole set. Maybe it was because it was 7:15pm on a Monday night. I would like to think it because they sucked, but they weren't that bad, just cliched enough to make many people want to stand around. He then organized the small pit to go to different sides and run at each and kill each other, and take it out on the people standing on the sidelines. Well, asshole, I would like to see that happen and have someone throw my back out for good. I am standing in this uncomfortable club with severe spinal issues and that would just make my night. Maybe spending the rest of my life in a wheel chair working on lawsuits against your sorry ass, the club and everybody's insurance company would be so much more fun than seeing bands and doing this blog. I don't know, but I do know that the audience just laughed you off and I had no fear of the small mosh pit. He concluded the show by promoting their new album. Well, as The Rock used to say, take that CD, turn it sideways, and...

Testament - Another five piece band playing you know what tonight. The first song immediately shows a vast improvement over the opener with some inventive guitar interplay that did not seem to follow the usual formulas. There was plenty of formula during the whole set, of course, but there is nothing wrong with that if you are strong and fast as these guys are. The singer and band smiled much of the night and had a good time with the set as did the audience. Good effective metal, well delivered.

Megadeth - Dave Mustaine and long time bassist, David Ellefson hit the stage with their two latest members and immediately crank out their signature brand of thrash metal. They are one of the giants of that field and of all metal, although I kind of have them a notch below you-know-who amongst a few others. Still, I always respected the playing and some of the punk crossover work Mustaine did. The good thing is that he has cleaned up his personal act, gotten over his nerve damage and still can deliver the goods. His stage patter was minimal but showed his prickly, yet humorous style making fun of some screwball holding up a t-shirt. Nothing wrong with an attitude, if you are smart or funny about it. He commented about the irony of playing "Darkest Hour" (I believe) for 20 years written about this city in this city. I mosied back wondering if I should stay for the encores, when some young guy in front of me was staggering badly and then passed out in a heap with a thud on the cool concrete. Security pulled him aside from whatever he was overdosing on and I thought I would call it a night. Megadeth was worth it, all in all, I would have to say. Let's leave it at that.

Story for the Night:  Some time ago, a friend of mine in KC went to see "Anvil! the Story of Anvil" and saw four or five metal looking guys in the audience and asked them if they were going to see the Metal festival later that was happening next door. They said "well, yeah, we're Testament".

Sunday, March 14, 2010

(sounds of) Kaleidoscope - Kohoutek - Gondola - Inzinzac -- Velvet Lounge - March 13 2010

Inzinzac - Sorry guys, missed the set due to the Giberto Gil show.

Gondola - Haven't seen this power trio in about a year, but looking forward to it. Blue Cheer meets Hawkwind and roars out a monster of a set. Even less vocals thank Kinski with this band, but more than Kohoutek. Still, there were some moments where a song broke out of the jams. But I am not complaining, as the jams were powerful and easy to get into, especially with the powerhouse drummer. Strong stuff and well worth the price of admission alone.

Kohoutek -Still a good band after multiple viewings/listenings. We got the usual dynamic build at the outset with lots of great psyche sounds and moves. Just when they veer a bit too much toward noise for my tastes, they pull back with some creative rhythms and melodic passages. Always a good loud presentation, I found this was a good set tonight.

(sounds of) Kaleidoscope - Another old favorite of mine hits the stage very late. These three bands are doing a small tour in the area and it appears most or all are off to Austin, the Mecca of music in March. Kaleidoscope delivered its excellent song-oriented psyche-rock, with some shoegaze moves and indie appeal. A few songs sounded like Morrisey singing in front of Sonic Youth at their rockingest if you want to audio-visualize something. I like their sound, their songs, and even the way they handled a friendly heckler. I enjoyed trying to figure out if they were really covering Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand" late in the set. They were. They share a drummer with Gondola so the anchor is there. The guitarists and bassist do well on top with good vocals as well. See this band, you will be a happy person.

Quote of the Night: from the crowd - "I AM Greek and I want more!"

Gilberto Gil -- Lisner Auditorium - March 13 2010

Gilberto Gil - After enjoying Os Mutantes last year, I was excited that both Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso were scheduled one month apart this year. Now I will be on the lookout for Tom Ze and Gal Costa to complete the sweep of essential Tropicalia. Gil's career began with the traditional forms of bossa nova and samba and moved into political territory lyrically and more worldly influences musically. He didn't hit the psyche and pop market as much as some of the others, maybe a bit more into reggae and African themes, but he crafted his own sound and message and was very successful (I will write more when I review Veloso). The show was packed and a large portion of the audience spoke Portugese which was very apparent when there was much laughter during one song's lyrics where I had to sit there looking lost. Thankfully, it was dark. He mixed both languages well, and sometimes within the song. He had tremendous grace and humor and still played guitar very well. His voice was solid with interesting whistles in the nature of bird calls. He did a couple songs solo, but was helped most of the time with a cellist and his son on guitar and percussion. His son also showed a nice touch on guitar and some of the songs had outstanding interplay. A very enjoyable evening by a legend who still is healthy and sounds great.

Quote of the Night: "Please, sing along". Not much of a quote, but a highlight it as I think Gil had the most challenging requests for sing alongs and audience response singing that I have ever heard. The audience was expected to follow his patterns which increasingly got more varied and involved falsettos. But the crowd was brave and did well.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Midnight Wine - Pearl and the Beard - Kalob Griffin Band -- Red & the Black - March 11 2010

Kalob Griffin Band - A five piece hits the stage with the usual electric instruments along with a lap steel and a lead vocalist (Griffin) adding acoustic guitar. The lead guitarist also played mandolin half the time. The sound was honkytonk rock, americana, rock, a bit of folk, a nice mix of styles. There was some unwanted dissonance or out of tune moments, but the sound was mostly good when the guitarists were sliding and ripping leads. Fair songs and a good crowd pleasing style made for a winning set this night.

Pearl and the Beard - This three piece from Brooklyn had the interesting combination of acoustic guitar, cello and percussion. All three members sang with two female voices in the mix. They started a capella and slowly added the sounds. Excellent arrangements and creative sounds. The cello was plucked bass style and bowed some. Even the acoustic guitarist was bowed (ala Eddie Phillips from the Creation, who did it before Jimmy Page) some. The music hit psyche notes, stomping rock, moody quiet moments and various other elements into a lovely eclectic stew. A really nice surprise and a band I would be happy to see again. Good luck in Austin.

The Midnight Wine -Did this band say this was there first show? Well, they certainly got their act together before hitting the stage. They sounded quite accomplished for rookies. They had a good rock sound with a real sludgy undercurrent that I thought was distinctive and powerful. Lead guitar work shone through nicely and keyboards filled out the sound even if at times it was low in the mix and the guy was sitting on the floor out of view due to the full club. The songs were quite good with the weakest song being their one cover. Well one of the songs was bound to be good as it heavily borrowed from "All Along the Watchtower". But I am not a lawyer, I just worked with them and socialize with them. A very good start for this local band and good times await.

Quote of the Night: From the headliners... "I forgot how to banter, I worked on it all day with co-workers."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Family Portrait - Andrew Cedermark -- DC9 - March 8 2010

Andrew Cedermark - Mr. Cedermark played guitar and sang along with a drummer and a bass/keyboardist. A good jarring song from the start with barely audible vocals. The sound seemed a bit off and the soundman had them turn down the guitar amp which balanced things better from then on. Alternating between gutsy and spoken vocals, the music steadily followed a bluesy shoegaze rock sound. I preferred the gutsier vocals. Although the songs weren't getting through to me as much as I had hoped, I still heard some decent potential here. Note, work on the stage patter a bit. For instance, you don't need to introduce the band twice. After reading the myspace page, it seems that playing out isn't or wasn't one of Mr. Cedermark's goals.

Family Portrait - Another guitarist/vocalist with a drummer and bass player and a separate keyboardist this time. Although it was easy to forget about him as he sat on the floor behind the bass player. The guitar was heavy on the reverb and high on the treble. There was some nice tempo and a really good driving rhythm section keeping things going. A mix of garage and classic pop-rock, I suppose. Likable songs and a very nice set. They will certainly be getting some good live experience while beginning a rather lengthy tour with the prerequisite stop through SxSW, like half the other bands I am seeing these days. It will be nice to see them again after this experience.

Quote of the Night: The opening band and audience after learning they have 15 minutes left...
"OK, should we play two fast ones and one slow one? Well, we'll do one fast one and two slow ones, because we only know one fast one."

"Play the fast one last!"
"Play the fast one twice!!"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Seas - Blood Feathers - Tough Shits -- Black Cat - March 4 2010

Tough Shits - Call me old fashioned, but a band starts in a negative position with me when they choose a name that does not warrant listing in a major newspaper or a broadcast. I really don't care if your aspirations are small, it still is a bit too juvenile for me. I have also seen bands try to belatedly change names to try and turn things around (FUs to Straw Dogs, Urinals to 100 Flowers, Stretch Marks to Alley Cats, etc.). But on to the music. We have a five-piece with a vocalist, keyboardist and just the one guitar. The sound is garage pop, with some psyche and rock moves here and there. Lots of backing vocals in a pop manner. Decent enough hooks, but a tad sloppy at times. From the look of the band, if I were thinking in business terms, it looks like this was some sort of merger involving a hostile takeover with the pop band winning out over a grunge punk band. The chatter was a bit a bit goof-ball, too, but I have seen lots worse and they went over well enough.

Blood Feathers - Before the show, I read where these guys were good old school rockers (60s-70s). Well, they clearly started in that terrain, but had a really good modern flavor as well. It is hard to describe exactly how it worked, but it did. Three guitars blazing, a rhythm section and one guy that played sax, keyboards and percussion. Two of the guys sang, rotating lead duties and doing a lot of harmonizing in different registers. The sound was a little too thick at first but crystallized into a powerful roar with strong vocals over the top at all times. I remember seeing the Lazy Cowgirls invigorate the Ramones approach in the late 80s and these guys do the same with an earlier rock sound. Great set.

by morgan 
Seas - And now, a DC band to follow the two from Philadelphia. No keyboards here, just lots of guitars with the rhythm section. The songs were more in the indie rock realms which I guess is kind of a singer songwriter approach with just a bit more of a rock sound. Very good songs here as I was drawn in pretty much from the beginning. The sound was more pounding and steady and not as jangly as others in these realms. I did think one song was "Signed DC" by Arthur Lee, until the vocals came in. There ARE only so many chords out there, so nothing wrong with latching onto the ones that sound so good. Solid effort, guys.

Quote of the Night: from the openers as they made the set list as they went along... "Alright you pick a song, then. Take your sweet time."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rodrigo y Gabriela - Alex Skolnick Trio -- 9:30 Club - Feb 28 2010

Alex Skolnick Trio - The basic trio with an upright bass. Clearly jazz was the foundation with touches of latin inspiration and maybe a couple other worldly moves. A very jazzy interpretation of Rush's "Tom Sawyer" was the oddball, fun moment of the set. Some of the guitar work is reminiscent of players like Al Dimeola I would hazard to guess. The players were good, the music agreeable and gutsy at times, so the set was a nice success and an appropriate set-up for the headliners.

Rodrigo y Gabriela - As I sampled dozens of acts from Bonaroo and Coachella on my computer last year, I enjoyed this duo's set at Bonaroo the most of all the bands I saw. So I was looking forward to catching their first night of a three week US tour. Their sound is highly unique given the fact that they do instrumentals with two acoustic guitars. They have a ton of pace and two very different styles that fit perfectly together. He plays flamenco style leads, although they correctly point out they are not traditional flamenco players. She plays rhythm and percussion all at once covering for about three people in an average band. The songs go from snappy fun high energy folk to spacey psycedelia to moody acoustic to rockers to pretty much whatever they choose to do. One song sounded like an acoustic "Saucerful of Secrets" and had great lighting to match the song. The lighting was widely varied, yet not over-the-top. The staging was good as they both moved around a lot sitting and standing in different spots--theatrical, but again subtle. There were some synthesizers, wah-wahs, and other effects going in underneath, but the playing was excellent. Great ovation from the crowd as they await a second sell-out night tonight.

Quote of the Night: Gabriela noted "touring is a fuckin' soap opera". You gotta like someone with the looks of an angel and the tongue of a sailor as she dropped more f-bombs than I used to hear at the average Exploited show. She did a good job explaining that here style is based on the bodhran, an Irish drum. She uses two fingers and a thumb to simulate flickering drum motion of the bodhran player. Interesting and very effective.