Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bands I Saw Last Week

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 2:15 PM

A Seasonal Disguise at The VAC

I just reviewed these guys a week or so back, so all I'm going to say is that for this show they lost the superfluous percussionist, and it made huge difference performance-wise, making for great atmosphere instead of being constantly visually distracted and mentally drawn out of the sounds. Whether that was a deliberate choice, or someone was just out of couch-change for the bus, it worked.

Spondee at The VAC

Next up was Spondee, who had a great clean pop sound, with bright, twinkling guitar and synth that evoked early Stiff Records acts like Nick Lowe and Any Trouble, though with a downplayed songwriting style based more in the indie sensibilities of The Rentals or That Dog. The single-note melodic synth lines sounded great over the single-coil guitars and the arrangements moved along nicely. The dual vocals didn't really raise the bar for me though, serving more of a doubling role than harmonic or polyphonic duties and only fulfilling a fraction of the potential of an extra vocalist. Only two of the songs really stuck with me, and not in any sort of earth-shaking way, but it was nice to see a band comfortable, even courting the label of pop.

However, it appeared that the plague of superfluous musical interloper had been contracted from A Seasonal Disguise as Spondee's second guitarist spent most of the set without playing a note. Which was a shame, as when he finally contributed an arpeggio over a chorus, it sounded great, like the climax to "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes" by Elvis Costello.

Spondee is hardly going to take over the world, but they'd be great on the soundtrack for an independently shot rom-com with '80's or indie influences.

RevoltRevolt at The VAC

RevoltRevolt appears to be on track to be Boise's next hot export, touring almost constantly. But after seeing them at the VAC, I'm at a total loss to understand why. I really wanted to like them, to have local boys making good to root for, especially ones with Orange amps, hung cymbals and a Double-Wide sticker on their kick. But they were awful, one of the worst bands I've seen in Boise. The drumming was stiff, played from the elbows. The bass was sloppy and abrasive. And the guitars were a slushy indistinct mess, occasionally bordering on a riff but quickly being swallowed up in the same wash that drowned the vocals. All together it was an overly-busy mess that sounded more like the early jam phase of a song in which different parts are being tried on for size to be discarded when they don't fit. But they weren't discarded and consequently, only a third or so of the songs even sounded like finished songs rather than sound-stew.

Rock should be a bit sloppy. But this wasn't sloppy so much as fractured and unfocused; a loud nasty noise more than a loud nasty statement in the form of a noise. It's wholly possible this just was an off night for the band. A girl at the bar remarked on how the bass player had reached the barely-able-to-stand level of inebriation, and the singer/guitarist asked several times for levels to be adjusted in the monitors, looking a little more irritated each time. And I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and hit up another show sometime. But even listening back to the the third of their offerings that felt like real songs online, I'm left wanting. Wanting for a riff, wanting for a beat, wanting for a song that will make me want to revolt twice, let alone once. But it wasn't there.

As far as having someone to root for, it would appear that I'm still, in the words of Bonnie Tyler, "holding out for a hero."

Next day update: Ended up catching RevoltRevolt's tour kick-off show at The Red Room Monday night, and they were in fact less drunk and much much better. Tighter, more focused and with an energy that plays well to a confined space sans stage. Some of the tracks sounded like early Cure and some made me think of Jawbreaker, if they tossed in some polyrhythms. While some of the arrangements were still overly busy, the tighter performance made them far more functional, some even danceable. This is a band I'd like to see at a house party more than on a stage.

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