Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Flamin Groovies - The Ubangis - Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Nov 23 2015

Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness - This local band's music seems simple at first, but a careful listen of a full set reveals a level of complexity worthy of their lengthy band name. There is a rootsy rockabilly core pushed through modern sounds with nods to punk and pub rock, all with good energy and control. Take Mitch Ryder, the Count Bishops, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Chelsea, and Reverend Horton Heat and put them in a blender until smooth. The result is this band with its strong vocal work and sharp guitars. I enjoyed it. The crowd of old Flamin Groovie fans also really got into this, as they should.

The Ubangis - I suppose it is time to see a DC band that has been around 20 years for the first time (I am sure there are more out there if I really dug in and sought them all out). These guys are a trio of guitar, bass, and singing stand-up drummer. They have a few instrumentals in their arsenal and really have a strong Link Wray sound (I almost said link to the Wraymen for those that know how my brain works). It is almost too composed as their energy seems to slip mid-set. They come back well however, and end a good note. Not earth shattering, perhaps a touch of psychobilly here an there might be fun, but still a decent enough set and well placed before tonight's headliners. And extra credit goes to the band for nicknaming guitarist Randy Manos, 'the Hands of Death'.
 photo: Audrey Phain
The Flamin Groovies - The one person I know who was at the previous DC show was totally alike in mind when the first thing he said was 'let's hope for better than the U Street show'. That show was a serious disappointment as there was constant feedback, an irritated band, and one sad reviewer. I am a bit dismayed that I learned they still did not do a soundcheck, as that clearly undid them last time. But since this is more a rock club and the club soundman is there to work with their guy, we can hope. But there it was, feedback and weird underlying noise as the soundmen were frantically trying to get things right. Thankfully it improved and was not near the distraction of last time. However, I really wish the band would do soundchecks. Frankly, they should probably save money on a soundman as well, as he does not seem to be helping things at all.

That said, it was not a disaster as the band started off with a Byrds cover which appropriately set the stage for their west coast jangling, engaging and rocking guitar interplay. The rhythm section is rock solid and their songs are really welcome on the live stage with all the glorious hooks and sway. Vocally, Chris Wilson was a little more ragged than I expect but he and Cyril Jordan pulled it off well enough. So this was a worthwhile make-up for the U Street debacle. It was not magical, but it was high quality power pop music delivered by a band that should have connected better with larger audiences long ago. I enjoyed my night out, as did most of the crowd.

Facebook Grab of the Day: Be careful with that cropping, Canada...

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