Rockin’ through the decades
Feeling more like a variety hour than a rock show, Friday night’s lineup at The End may not have been the best we’ve seen this year, but it certainly holds the record as most interesting. We actually wondered if we’d shown up on the right evening when we walked in to find a gaggle of bona fide hippies flailing about the stage to the almost cleverly titled local band The Very Special Guests. They seemed to be choosing the opportunity to shoot a music video. Complete with ’70s leisure garb and frizzed out curly white boy afros, the Guests were cooking up some middle-shelf, garden variety Southern rock with just the right amount of funk and psychedelia so as not to distinguish themselves from the majority of their contemporaries. Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of this show, and one that would be pervasive throughout the evening, was that not only was the show completely divided in terms of genre, but the crowd seemed to swap out with each act, arriving and exiting on cue as each started and ended. By the time Faun started up, much of The Very Special Guests’ fans had left and the Faun constituency had taken its place. Taking a purely late-’90s approach, Faun had all the essentials for a genuine post-grunge pop-rock band: 5 string bass, soul patches, phaser and delay pedals, and a curly mopped singer whose intense, hunched over microphone grip was no doubt an homage to Eddie Vedder. Their slick and heavily filtered rock riffs were certainly nothing new, but at the same time carried some radio-friendly melodies that were nothing to scoff at. Once again switching gears—and audience members—a mob of fans clad mostly in black wandered in to catch Mother Father. The ’70s and ’90s had already been represented earlier in the evening, and Mother Father dutifully covered the decade in between with a dark and melancholy reverberated gloom. Standing somewhere between the poppier moments of Joy Division and the darker side of The Cure, Mother Father stays true to their gothic roots without sounding too much like any one of their influences. The stage was lit only from underneath while a dense layer of fog wafted over, which was great for effect but soon left us wanting a little more aesthetic activity to keep things interesting. When Mother Father’s fans clocked out of their shift, all that was left were a few die-hard supporters of The Comfies. Though proper Comfies drummer Sam Smith—who’s been recently supporting Ben Folds—was present, Hotpipes’ Dan Summers was more than competently keeping the beat in his stead. The Comfies trade in a classic brand of power pop that often switches from mean-but-simple riffs to saccharine-but-hard-driving melodies. Given the late night that’s often inherent with a four-band bill, and perhaps the waning number of folks still present, the band kept it short and sweet, ending the evening just a few songs shy of a standard set.
While Nashville novelty bands have no doubt decreased in number, we witnessed first-hand Saturday night that their welcome here has hardly worn out. At their CD release show at The Basement, The Mattoid was sandwiched between two such acts to create one truly peculiarly absurd, but no less entertaining, lineup. First up was newcomer MC Woodgrain, better known to his friends and a small circle of locals as the singer for psychedelic redneck punkers Eaglebreeze. Woodgrain dresses up special for the role, changing out of his usual threads and into traditional oversized urban thug wear. Much like his outfit, what we got musically was nothing short of predictable: dirty South swagger, simple syncopated beats and unimaginative rhymes about the usual materialistic, misogynistic, money-loving, alleged hustling-and-police-dodging tribulations that have become a boring standard for the genre. We got the impression Woodgrain was going for irony, but where the opportunity for comedic irreverence or an original spin on a tired stereotype was presented, we instead got the same bland formula coming out of the basement of every wannabe MC in Ca$hville. Following shortly after, The Mattoid’s comically intimidating Finnish frontman Ville Kiviniemi accompanied only his drummer onstage to play their vulgar party anthem “We Are the Cocksuckers” for what he announced would be the very last time. In fact, even after Kiviniemi was joined by the rest of the band, we were told nearly half the set—the band’s most recognizable tracks—would never be played again. The band makes a strong argument for novelty status by juxtaposing Kiviniemi’s looming, ominous presence, broken English, and dark, profane imagery with sweet, jangly three-chord ’60s pop melodies. But rather than growing tired, as gimmicks often do, The Mattoid’s shtick starts strong and ends strong. Notably absent was auxiliary singer Lauren Brown, who joined the band only once to sing the lead on “Rat Poison”—which again was said to be a final performance. The Basement’s tiny space isn’t hard to max out, and it was well before The Mattoid took the stage. Capacity didn’t diminish much by the time Spring Hill Spider Party transformed the event from rock show to instant dance party, starting with their first jam. It’s obvious to anyone, including the band, that Spider Party isn’t an act to be judged on merits such as musicianship, originality or even songwriting chops. More like the artistic equivalent of professional wrestling, it’s really all about entertainment value. The band serves its two primary objectives well, by 1) inciting all those in attendance to dance and dance hard, and 2) making us chuckle a bit in between. Offering absurd lyrics over pre-sequenced Eurotrash beats (with a little live bass and drums sprinkled in), Spring Hill Spider Party’s running gag wore a little thin on us well before their 15-song set ended, but you can’t argue with the people—and the people wanted to dance.
Hey, what ever happened to Plastic Clap? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
well fuck you anon! Go and Catch fire!
The guitar is a custom made Gretsch he used on the Raconteurs tours...sweet. I couldn't…
I knew him before the beard.
Sometimes I think snowman69 makes good points. But I think he's way off the mark…