Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Learning Team, Finn Riggins, Tartufi and No Paws @ the Crux (8/26/12)

Sheesh.  I know Tartufi likes to play Boise, but this was just ridiculous: in addition to headlining last Tuesday's Radio Boise show at Neurolux, they picked up this gig at the Crux.  Like I said once before, oughtta just buy a house here.  But hey, I wasn't gonna knock seeing them and one of Boise's finest again, not to mention a couple of out-of-state acts who were new to me.

A friend and I got down there good and early, having seen an announcement on Facebook that the show would start promptly at 7.  That may have been the plan, but I should've trusted on one of the cardinal rules of rock and roll: no concert EVER starts right on time.  On the plus side, the extra hour that it took for things to get underway allowed me to watch a very respectable crowd build up.

The Bellingham, WA band Learning Team kicked off the evening.  I might need to doublecheck some of the science trivia that they dropped thoughout their set (can you really train a dog to sniff out lung cancer?), but the high quality of their music was unquestionable.  Alex Vlahosotiros's warm cello added a serene, yearning tone to this group's mix of dreamy melodies, jangly riffs, zooming basslines and no-nonsense drumming.  Their confident groove got the people dancing and clapping to the beat.

After Learning Team came Finn Riggins.  The bit of touring that they've done around the Northwest lately seems to have tightened them up but good: Cameron Bouiss's full-throttle drums, Eric Gilbert's flowing keyboard and synth and Lisa Simpson's strong, lovely voice and guitar all sounded in peak form.  This night's set provided ample proof, were any needed, that this trio is still one of Idaho's flagship bands.  They skanked through the inexhaustible "Benchwarmers" without the technical difficulties that marred their Pre-Fat Block Party set, and their instrumental barn-burner and "Big News" got everyone in the Crux moving.

Tartufi followed Finn Riggins with a slightly mellower and more playful set than I was used to from them.  Of course, that doesn't mean I wasn't grateful that I brought my earplugs.  Their serene melodies and harmonies rode atop undulant guitar lines, thick basslines and powerhouse drumming.  A highlight of their set was one gorgeous number where they invited Finn Riggins back onstage to play and sing along.

Oh yeah, and about that pink gorilla outfit... If you go to Finn Riggins' FB page, you'll have a nice chuckle.  That's all I'm gonna write.

Not many folks stuck around to watch No Paws, which was really too bad.  To their credit, however, the Riverside, CA band didn't seem to let the reduced crowd faze them and turned in a rousing finale to the night.  Their charmingly plain vocals, gentle keyboard parts, airily chiming guitar, tuneful basslines and fierce, unstoppable drumming made me think a little of what New Order might sound like if they tried to recapture the raw energy of their Warsaw days.  A nice combination: rowdy yet soothing.

You can find info about all of these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Duck Club Presents.

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