We arrived at the Mercy Lounge's '70s cover night expecting to be challenged by that decade's rich stylistic diversity--everything from "Hot Stuff" to "Hamburger Lady," Television to "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," Gary Glitter to Gary Numan!
There was a cover of Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)," by the night's opener Home Keys, the one-man brainchild of Scene contributor Seth Graves. His set also included an acoustic take on T. Rex's "Cosmic Dancer" (with Auto-Tune, of course) and high-energy romp through the 1980(!) disco classic "Funky Town." Next up were riot grrrrrls--and guy--Heavy Cream, who indulged their youthful vigor with ramshackle versions of The Ramones' "Judy Is a Punk" and The Runaways' "School Days" among others.
The super sounds of the '70s really kicked into high gear with Tristen, who clearly had put quite a bit of thought and effort into her performances of The Faces "Ooh La La," Dolly Parton's "Jolene," and Tom Petty's "Refugee" which featured Eric Lehning of the Non-Commissioned Officers on guest vocals and Buddy Hughen (Eureka Gold, Non Coms) doing his best Mike Campbell impression on the six-string. Her band also included mandolin player Tommy Oliverio, bass player Eli Beaird, Scene staffer D. Patrick Rodgers on the drums and cellist Larissa Maestro. Well done.
That same rhythm section backed Caitlin Rose, whose set was absolutely captivating. Highlighted by versions of Fleetwood Mac's "Say You Love Me" and Neil Young's "Down by the River" that were almost pathological in their authenticity, the performance was beyond a highlight--it was the kind of performance we hope to see every time we go out for a night of free local rock.
After Rose's set a large crowd remained to see The Tits; they started their set with the Ramones' "Warm California Sun," and followed it up with the best (and only) live version of "T.V. Eye" we've ever heard. "This's our last song, it's a slow song," proclaimed band leader Sweet Davey Titties. It is? Maybe to them. Never ones to shy away from covers that might seem hubristic to others, they concluded with "Search and Destroy." We were totally banging our heads, although we're using the royal "we"--the crowd, although enthusiastic, preferred to stand impassively for most of the night.
Between sets, we spoke to some disgruntled audience members who had dressed for a promised '70s costume contest that never took place. Having been denied due recognition for their tube tops and bronzer, they took it badly: "Look how shiny I am! Look how brown I am!" Next up was Turbo Fruits, a band that's recently had a lineup change and includes two of the three Tits. Thus, they sounded not unlike the preceding band--perhaps because they shared a rhythm section; they played "Who Loves the Sun," and a powerful rendition of The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks."
"Hope you guys like Steely Dan," announced Neil O'Neill. He was singing for Cheer Up Charlie Daniels, who then confounded expectations by playing "No Matter What You Do" by Badfinger. They followed it with a rousing version of "Kodachrome" that brought out the song's infectious catchiness and included a fiddle breakdown. The band featured previous performers Caitlin Rose, Tristen and Larissa Maestro on BGVs, who had dressed for the theme in knee socks and high-waisted shorts: "Let's hear it for shorts!"
They concluded with Glen Campbell's "Southern Nights" (no Dan, sadly). Although some audience members were going home by the time Paper Navy took the stage, the band could have captured the small crowd's goodwill instantly by playing some Sabbath or Alice Cooper. Instead they played Wings. They followed it up with "Sister Golden Hair" by America. One audience member remarked of the lead singer, "I'd rather see him flippin' omelettes at Waffle House." With that, the show was over, and we were left to hear Thin Lizzy over the P.A.
Wonder what decade they'll do next?