Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Ettes - Friends - The Bam Bams -- Black Cat - Sep 3 2011

The Bam Bams - Two women, one on guitar/vocals, the other on drums comprise the Bam Bams. Yeah, the sound is a bit thin, but their brand of light garage-pop sounds pretty cool. I am reminded of Leslie Gore singing done to a post Ramones garage styled drums and guitar duel. Shonen Knife fans can take note of this band as well. Apparently they did recently lose a third member over a song they do called "Donkeys". I was expecting something a bit off the wall with the lyrics but I could only make out "cuz I like girls, I'm a donkey." Well, there are other third members out there. Hopefully they will find a compatriot to fill out there sound a bit, as it's a nice sound.

Friends - A five piece from Brooklyn is up next. They have a combination of female vocals, drums, bass, guitars, and keyboards with constant instrument switching. It may have been worth the switching if I could notice any discernible difference in the playing, but I did not. They asked the DC audience if anyone liked to dance. I heard about two people of the 100-150 people say they did which is about right for a DC crowd at a rock show. Their music was danceable, but it did not really push people too hard in that direction. While it is refreshing that a band tries to keep it light rather than blasting drum machine beats at maximum volume to create a robo-dancing beat, I think this band could have done more. The vocals were good, smooth but sometimes with a touch of Ari Up cutesy-toughness. Likable enough, but a bit more pizazz is needed to win over crowds that have the choice of hundreds of bands.

The Ettes - From Nashville comes this decidedly non-Nashville sounding band (aside from the accent during stage patter). The Ettes have a great part garage, part punk rock sound with a slightly modern feel. Their songs remind me of the Joy Formidable covering Fang. Initially their own soundman was not getting much sound on the drums, which was unfortunate as she was bashing away with plenty of power. The soundman was fiddling with dozens of knobs that could have been set at sound check? I don't know, but after he fooled around with the tone, he got the levels working ok and I could focus on the band. The singer/guitarist also had to let the bass player tune her guitar which killed the brief momentum after the opening number. Odd, but no noticeable glitches thereafter. Just song after song of catchy hooks, powerful drumming, thick bass runs, and guitar chords. The vocals soared above nicely and were pivotal in giving the band its take on this sort of sound. It was a bit like the granddaughter of Karen Dalton belting out beloved pop songs. They really pulled the crowd in as the excitement built nicely over their hour long set. I suppose it didn't hurt that the guitarist took her shirt off and the drummer did too in exchange for rounds from the crowd. It was PG all the way as bras were in place. And it was the last night of the tour, so they were kicking it out, leaving it all on stage, but did come back for a well-earned three song encore. I think they added some more fans tonight.

Quote of the Night: Overheard coversation in the streets...
First woman reading a text message... "What's this h-u-s-s-i-e... Huh-SEE?"
Second woman... "Oh yeah, it's a nicer way of saying slut.

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