Friday, July 9, 2010

The Honeyguns - The Last Monarchs -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - July 8 2010

The Last Monarchs - The Americana look of this area band was born out in their music quickly enough. They have drums, stand-up bass, a lead vocals/harmonica/acoustic guitarist and a woman playing violin and adding some backing Femvox as we say in the record collecting business. The songs are quite engaging and I like that the violin has more of a classical approach such as I used to hear in an obscure Brit-folk band Spriguns and does not go into raging country fiddlin'. The drummer kicks butt and I know I have seen him before. Ah, in doing my search, yes I have seen this band before and enjoyed them. It did not register as last time they had a cello instead of an upright bass. But as long as they find a way to deliver these fine songs, almost any reasonable format will do. The only real negative was that some transitions seemed a bit sonically empty, so maybe a steady line-up and lots of gigging will polish some of the edges. Still, it is a good set of songs worth checking out.

The Honeyguns - The set started slowly for two reasons. First, there seemed to be a bit too much preoccupation with photos and video shoots. There were two bright white stage lights set on each front corner and one large video camera on a rolling tri-pod with a smaller camera in the back. If that was not enough, two still photo folks were running around, one with a tripod (actually appeared to have been video). This created about a six foot neutral zone that fans of the band stood behind in reasonable numbers, but appearing like herded cattle (to be fair to the crew on the shoot, they were not at all trying to be bossy or takeover the space). Second, the first couple of songs were decent but seemed a bit like Funkadelic-lite, but I was probably a little harsh as the camera set-up felt like I was participating in a videoshoot as an unpaid extra. But the crowd was filled with many friends and fans and to the band's credit, they really started mixing up their sound nicely as the set went on. They reminded me most of a late 60s band that drew from blues, rock'n'roll, soul, r'n'b, and burgeoning hard rock. So focusing on the music lead me to believe that we have a really good band at work here. The guitarist really rocks out, the bass player has flash and the drummer is rock steady. The singer is excellent although he had to fight through the mix to be heard at appropriate levels. Great heavy, catchy closing number brought on a rousing reception from the crowd. Why the sound guys started playing house music, I don't know, as the crowd did keep cheering and the band came back for a 2-song encore. So I am left with an impression of a very good band that I want to see again some time but just straight up without the lights and camera, just the action.

Quote of the Night: "Day-O!" The Honeyguns singer had a good call response thing going and they kind of jammed a bit, but not all the band members had it figured out. Still fun and it could be worked further. And it was a better improv cover song take than anything the Replacements ever did.

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