Despite their often cramped quarters, limited visibility and sub-pro sound, the cons of the record store as venue are frequently offset by sheer ambiance. How can you not feel good about seeing a few bands when pop music’s greats are leering at you from every corner, or when you can’t move a muscle without grazing what might be your new or old favorite record? It also doesn’t hurt when there’s a couple of kegs sitting behind the counter. Either way you cut it, The Groove was a choice spot to see a couple of choice bands Friday night, courtesy of Jeffery Drag Records.
We were three complimentary cups in before opening act Don’t Forget Your Dinosaur kicked off the show. Converging a reverb-drenched, full-throttle surf-rock shred a la Man or Astroman? with juiced-up blues-rock and never wasting a moment between songs, the Shreveport power trio came through with a full-flavored onslaught we could easily just call “punk” and feel fine about it. Following closely after was The Electric Dollhouse Groove Buggy, who share not only the same hometown, but also a few band members as well, and who kept their bayou-base front and center with bluesy swamp-stomp punk jams that may or may not have been about alligators. We couldn’t tell, but we're perfectly happy assuming they were.
Has The Groove has gotten roomier, or did just the right amount of people bother to show up? That can’t be ascertained on our foggy recollection alone. We just remember there being plenty of room to see the stage, hear the bands, chat with a friend, snag a beer and reach the bathroom with very few impediments. And next up was Nashville’s own Fancytramp, who’ve become a slightly rarer treat as of late, having spent a good bit of 2012 in the studio and on the road. The ‘Tramps sound a little tighter and look a smidge more glamorous each time we catch them, and their fuzz-laiden grrrl grunge thumps our '90s soft spot in all the right places.
Speaking of grunge, Springfield’s Ghost Dance — a flagship spectacle on Jeffery Drag’s promising roster — followed up appropriately with a set of distinctly Southern, lumbering stoner-psych. The band occasionally tightens the slack into a garage-stomp frenzy, but our beer buzz fancied their sludgier grooves slightly more.
The Spin’s stubby fingers spent more than their share of 2012 pecking away descriptions of Fly Golden Eagle’s sweetly tempered fusion of paisley punk and blue-eyed soul into our word-processing machines, and there isn’t much more praise we can spew on that lot without risking infringement on our previous rants. Rather, we’ll say it was a pleasant soundtrack to record browsing and bin-side chats on an evening that ended all too early.