Friday, January 15, 2016

Skyline Hotel - Broke Royals - Lookout Gang -- DC9 - Jan 14 2016

by John Miller

Lookout Gang - It's bright, dancing, hips swaying, certainly different than what I have come accustomed to at DC9. The five piece straddles this odd line between early aught's garage pop revival, radio friendly rock, and Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion. A mix of covers and original pieces, it's a good choice to get this release party for Skyline Hotel started. The levels are exceptional too. I hate to belabor a point but I have been to so many shows with shitty levels that it does feel necessary to point out that I can hear things clearly, though DC9 seems to always be on point when it comes to levels so really it shouldn't be a surprise. It's light and easy with enough familiarity to keep everyone loose.

Broke Royals - The loose theme continues as Broke Royals take over for the second of three sets. It too is a mix of original material as well as covers (I Can't Feel My Face, The Weekend). If you are in a band and want get the crowd moving, play something by The Weekend; as everyone, especially those working the door, lost their shit. I don't mind covers but this one felt pandering; they immediately ask the crowd to participate in the following piece. I found it interesting that they played with a backing track. Consisting mostly of ethereal tones and keys, it wasn’t anything too difficult so I am surprised that they haven't found a fifth member to join them. But I digress. The crowd work is a little strange too. All of this feels formal and professional; almost scripted. The matching vests, ties, and blue jeans don't help; like a business casual Ramones. I get it: at the end of the day, as a semi-professional band some money would be nice. Promotion and a specific look certainty help solidify a band's brand (again The Ramones) and let's be honest, most of these shows are just one big commercial for whatever their newest album is but there is a fine line between selling your brand and begging for it.

That said, like Lookout Gang before them, Broke Royals does a great job of keeping things light and easy before the headliners. As you can probably imagine, it's quite crowd friendly; nothing too quick or depressing, a nice mid-tempo rock. Ultimately I found the music to be somewhat uninspired, however as I mentioned earlier, they could probably sell fart filled paper bags. Very professional.

Skyline Hotel - The room has filled out for Skyline Hotel. It nice; casual conversation, some dancing, couples at the bar, a real bar feeling. Unfortunately I only caught the end of their opening song but what I did hear was really interesting. The piece leaned on the keys, rather the keys were front and center. It was surprising considering the pieces that followed were much more guitar driven. It had hints of early nineties Nintendo compositions. Skyline Hotel is a four piece, lead by an acoustic, something I don't think I've seen in a long time, like a really long time. Musically, the themes that started the evening continue; it's a mid-tempo, easy going sound. The electric guitar work is exceptional. It doesn't over power the compositions but when they call for it, the solos are front and center. Really nice, they fit. It's rare that you hear solos composed this well from a smaller band.
I'm not quite sure what I caught at the beginning because as the night continues, the music never really comes close to what I thought I heard. Sometimes that mid-tempo slips into jam territory, before finding themselves right back where they started and perhaps that is what I caught earlier, the end of a short improvisation. And as with the electric, sometimes they too lean on that acoustic. It's nothing too surprising as the parts that do lean on that acoustic are generally quiet, a tinge of regret. Honestly I find the louder, quasi jamming stuff much more rewarding but the songs are all composed well, so even if one song leans on any one particular instrumentalist, it never leans on them so much that it is detrimental to the composition.

No comments: