Originally, I'd planned to check out the Swinging Utters show at the Shredder last Wednesday night. I'd had it on good authority that it'd probably be a fantastic show, and the general buzz I'd picked up suggested that a lot of people would be there. The more I thought about it, however, the more sense it seemed to make to do a write-up on something that didn't have so much buzz. That's one of the things that I love most about doing this blog: making new discoveries, venturing out into the unknown.
The Flying M out in Nampa isn't unknown to me anymore, but the Olympia group The New Slang and the Davis, CA group Marlene Marlene were. Also, the price was right ($3 cover), and the bill included the Caldwell group Lakefriend, whose opening set for the Soft White Sixties last month I'd enjoyed quite a bit.
I didn't see many people inside the Flying M's garage when I arrived. As the evening progressed, the crowd built to about thirty. Decent enough for an off night. At least the folks dug the music.
The New Slang started off the evening. "I'll say it hesitatingly," the gentleman pictured here playing the bass told the crowd, "but I'm glad you guys haven't heard us before." Some people are just too hard on themselves. Although they played with a reduced lineup (their bassist had apparently had trouble making the gig) and may have sounded just a little loose at a couple of points, their surf-tinged guitar riffs, melodic basslines and quicksilver drumming blended together nicely and fell into a comfortable, confident groove. Things got even better, though, when Danny Carlson from Marlene Marlene took over on bass and allowed the New Slang to create some gorgeously interweaving guitar lines. Throughout, their smart, deadpan vocals delivered both their poppy tunes and their ominous lyrics ("Someone will die in a deep volcano. / Someone will die in the Arctic ice flow") effectively.
After the New Slang came Marlene Marlene, whose tense sound mixed funk, disco, psychedelic hard rock, pop and just a little bit of country into its surf-punk base. Jake Magit's tuneful, humorous snarl and blazing, Billy Zoom-ish guitar found able support in Danny Carlson's calm harmonies and sly basslines and Rene Macleay's fast-stepping drums. "Whatever happened to the twist?" they asked in one song. The crowd's moving and grooving answered that question.
Lakefriend provided a solid ending to the night with their careening, infectiously happy tunes. Although they still sounded a little rough here and there, these guys showed marked signs of improvement in every department. Matt Stone and Mason Johnson's guitars sounded sharper (even got some very nice interweaving of their own going), Chris Jennings's basslines sounded firmer and Jacob Milburn's drumming sounded more limber and even swinging. Not only that, their vocals sounded as confident and joyous as their music this time around.
"That was the best set we've ever done," a couple of them said when they were finished. Took the words right out of my mouth/pen/word processor. I just might tack on a "so far" at the end.
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