Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Bare Bones, The Finer Points of Sadism, The Sneezz and Junior Rocket Scientist @ the Red Room (5/22/12)

Tuesday had some ups and downs for me.  Up: I set up HCTD's new Facebook page, and I crossed the 1,500 pageview mark (once again, thanks for reading!).  Down: I found out that my uncle may have colon cancer in addition to the possibly malignant tumor that the doctors found on his hip.  This means that he may need to undergo chemotherapy before they can cut the tumor out.  I was happy to get out of the house for a while and go down to the Red Room; if I stayed inside, I'd have probably just stewed over that until I drove myself crazy.

While I waited for this week's Atypical Tuesday show to start, I sat at the bar and watched Wings of Desire on the TV.  For those of you who haven't seen it, the movie's about an angel who goes around watching over humans and bringing them as much comfort and guidance as he can.  The angel longs to become human, to embrace mortal life and all of the suffering and joy that go with it.  I won't say that it brought me comfort (my uncle could use a lot more comfort than me right now, and I doubt that any movie's gonna help much with that), but it did kinda put things in perspective.

(By the way, if my synopsis sounds familiar, that's because Hollywood remade Wings of Desire as the film City of Angels with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan.  If you haven't seen the original, I recommend doing so.  It's not nearly as melodramatic, and you don't need to see Dennis Franz's ass.)

The Bare Bones, a young local power trio, kicked off the night's music.  And when I say young, I mean young--I found out later that two-thirds of the band can't legally drink yet.  Don't underestimate these guys because of their age, though: they've got more chops now than some musicians twice their age do.  Nathan Norton's fluid bass and Aaron Bossart's roiling drums infused their tuneful, psychedelic/metallic hard rock with a jazzy litheness.  Chris Brock squeezed all kinds of wondrous sounds out of his guitar and sang with a sly confidence that belied his voice's boyish register.  A guy I spoke with said that this band will be absolutely fantastic when they get older.  I agree, but from what I saw and heard, they're already there.

After the Bare Bones came The Finer Points of Sadism, an experimental electronica duo whose dissonant samples and textures, disorienting polyrhythms and ominous, grisly lyrics owed a clear debt to Throbbing Gristle.  If you have any idea who Throbbing Gristle is, you should know whether or not this group is for you.  Me, I found TFPOS's waves of noise entrancing and cleansing.  It undoubtedly helped that Jacobb and Ashley Sackett packed them with stuff that aficionados of the finer points of songcraft appreciate: covert hooks, beats, riffs, even tunes.  On one song, they called to mind a sprung-rhythm Bauhaus or maybe Second Edition/Metal Box-era Public Image Ltd.  That I might have liked their improvisations even more says something very good about this experimental group.

Local one-man act The Sneezz followed The Finer Points of Sadism.  If D. Boon from the Minutemen had switched to bass, decided to dress like a Keebler elf onstage and started hanging out with Devo, you might have gotten something like this.  Absurdist, satirical lyrics met with robotically funky beats, propulsive basslines and screechy, scratchy samples to form a smart, catchy, hilarious melange of 80's New Wave and indie music.  I heard a little Talking Heads here, a little Red Hot Chili Peppers and Violent Femmes there.  The dominant influence, however, was Devo, and that became unmistakable well before the set-capping "Whip It" cover.

Local four-man indie rock band Junior Rocket Scientist played last.  Their playing sounded a little stiff and awkward at some points--drummer Mark Molitor threatened to get ahead of his bandmates now and again--but overall, their post-punk, Sonic Youth-goes-pop/disco sound provided a fine ending to the live music for the night.  Droning, chiming guitar parts combined with Peter Hook-y basslines, catchy synth and electric violin riffs, hyperkinetic drumming and enthusiastically guileless vocals.  When they all joined hands, it was good stuff.

You can find info about these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online (except The Sneezz--couldn't seem to find anything about him).  For info on upcoming Atypical Tuesdays, go to

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