Monday, December 31, 2012

Teens, Gayze, Art Fad and Deaf Kid @ the Red Room (12/29/12)

This show excited me because it gave me an opportunity to check out Gayze, a new project by local band Teens and Texas group the Rich Hands.  It also gave me the chance to see Teens again and (I hoped) get a better sense of their music.  Maybe their equipment wouldn't keep screwing up this time around, I thought.  At least the elevated stage would probably keep the crowd from crashing into them.

I counted thirty people when I arrived at the Red Room.  At least another twenty would brave the snow by the time that the show began.  Hipsters showing some heart--gives a cranky, snotty bastard hope for the future.

Deaf Kid kicked off the night.  Maybe it was just a matter of different sound systems, but this group sounded much edgier here than they did at the Flying M a few weeks back.  Their sunny guitars had a nice extra bit of distortion to them, and Matt Stone's drums sounded in especially strong form.  Their gliding groove got the crowd nodding to the beat and standing on chairs to get a look at the stage.

Art Fad played next.  Their grungy riffs, pummeling drums and snarled vocals incited the audience to do some friendly moshing.  Theo Maughan's raw bellow sounded good and fierce, and Jacob Milburn drummed with an admirable amount of energy for a guy who'd already performed three sets this night (he played a house show before coming here).  While it might have been nice if I could have parsed some more of their lyrics, their increasingly muscular sound signified maturity and articulation enough for now.

Up next was Gayze, whose lineup this night consisted entirely of Idaho dudes (including Jacob Milburn on drums).  Their blend of surf, garage and shoegaze wasn't spectacular, but it certainly wasn't bad.  The audience didn't seem to have any complaints either: they grooved out plenty to the dreamy tunes, intertwining guitars, pounding drums and weird-ass synthesizer noises.  My only real complaint is that they could've turned down the smoke machine a little: it grew so thick that I started getting a headache and couldn't see the projections on the screen behind them.

I will admit, though, that it did look pretty cool.

Teens closed out the night with a set that was blessedly free of their Manor show's technical difficulties.  With all the kinks worked out and all systems go, did this garage-rock group live up to the hype surrounding them?  Frankly, no--I can think of at least fifteen local bands right now who sing better, write better and play better.  More than many of the mid-to-late-60's emulators/imitators that I've heard this year, however, this band seems to honestly partake of the slovenly, freewheeling, joyous spirit that we've come to associate with Haight-Ashbury, Woodstock, etc (this wasn't just a matter of the psychedelic lines, shapes and colors flashing on the screen behind them either).  Ultimately, that spirit put their caterwauling vocals, twangy guitars and tidy little tunes across.  These guys came off as so open and friendly onstage that I couldn't begrudge them their ecstatic reception from the crowd (jumping, shouting, screaming).  They ain't no Soft White Sixties (or Bare Bones or Marshall Poole), but I'll take them over the Shivas.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hey V Kay, Exit Prose and Oso Negro @ Neurolux (12/28/12)

This show interested me because it gave me the chance to check out two local hip-hop acts I hadn't really written about before, Oso Negro and Exit Prose.  As an added bonus, it gave me the chance to see local electronica act Hey V Kay again and to show a little support for the good folks at Go Listen Boise, who had set this deal up.

I got down to Neurolux at about a quarter past eight and counted a little over thirty people.  That number would more than double as the night wore on.  That's what you'd hope for with a Friday night show.  It was kinda refreshing to plenty of unfamiliar faces too (in my experience, you don't often see Tapout T-shirts at Neurolux).

Oso Negro performed first.  His smooth, catchy beats, his warm timbre, his quick, assured flow and his smart rhymes got the night off to a fine start.  A couple raps about living on a budget and what'll happen when all the bees die off were particularly impressive.  This set also featured a one-song team-up with Exit Prose and Dave Boutdy from Dedicated Servers.

Exit Prose performed two sets this night, one after Oso Negro and another after Hey V Kay.  This gave him ample time to show off his effectively spare beats, forceful flow, sharp lyrics and sung chorus hooks.  The audience really started to warm up during his first set: about a dozen people moved up to the dance floor to groove and wave their hands in the air.  He may have stumbled at a couple of points (decided to skip one track, had to start over a couple of times), but overall, Exit Prose did more than enough to prove that he's been keeping it real since his Kamphire Collective days.

Hey V Kay's somber electronic tunes sounded just as sexy as they did when she opened for Friends back in October.  Karen Havey's booming, intricate beats, elegant synth and guitar lines (performed both by her and her brother Owen) and low, sultry murmur elicited plenty of dancing and loud applause from the crowd.  This set featured an astute recasting of Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams," but that song sounded outclassed next to Havey's originals.  Beguiling stuff.

(Sidenote--Somebody out there oughtta set up a bill with Hey V Kay and Edmond Dantes.  Mmm, that'd be something...)

You can find info on these acts and Go Listen Boise on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Cerberus Rex, Brett Netson with Snakes and Tommy Dirtweed @ the Red Room (12/27/12)

I decided to check this show out because it had been a while since I'd seen Cerberus Rex.  Also, it'd been even longer since I'd seen Brett Netson, and I'd never seen Tommy Dirtweed before.  Hey, what else was I gonna do with all these spare ear cells?

I counted about twenty-six or twenty-seven people when I got down to the Red Room.  As you might expect, a pretty solid crowd had built up by the time that Brett Netson played.  As you might also expect, the aging hipster contingent formed an uncommonly high percentage of the audience this night.  As they are, so shall I be, I suppose.

"SHUT UP!!!"  That was how local musician Tommy Dirtweed kicked off his set.  Eric the sound-man said he could take ten minutes, but the man said fuck that and launched into a couple numbers with just his blown-out voice, his plodding basswork and some drumming courtesy of J.R. from Wilt Chamberlin's Baby. When his two guitarists took the stage, the quartet busted out some textbook stoner rock: sludgy tempos, crude riffing, screamo vocals, dunderheaded lyrics.  With his lethargic flailing and fist-pumping, Dirtweed came across as a parody of an 80's butt-rock frontman (or a stoner who secretly yearned to be one).  J.R. delivered some of his patented naughty-boy shtick, stumbling up to the mic between songs to educate the crowd about the different types of marijuana.  It's too bad that the guys in Cat Massacre weren't here: this set coulda given them hope for the longevity of dumbass transgressive art.  All in all, mildly amusing.

Brett Netson and Snakes played soon after.  Netson looked thinner and shorter than I remembered from Treefort, but of course, I was stuck back at the far end of the bar during his Sunday night set.  In any case (and much more importantly), his music sounded quite a bit sharper than I remembered.  It helped that, instead of acting like valets, the fluid, tune-carrying basslines and the steady, propulsive drumming served as equal partners to Netson's buckets of mind-bending wah-wah noise.  As at Treefort, the heavy reverb on Netson's mic made it hard to understand what he was saying.  As at Treefort, I doubted that it mattered much.

This set was especially noteworthy for its final number, when Tommy Dirtweed and Pat Perkins joined Netson onstage for an impromptu, one-song reunion of legendary local band Caustic Resin.  "JUMP, MOTHERFUCKER!" Dirtweed shouted over Perkins's grinding drums and Netson's howling guitar.  Only a couple of people obeyed, though I did observe some very enthusiastic nodding and bobbing.

Discretion kept me from taking a picture of Tommy Dirtweed dropping his pants and flashing his junk at the crowd.  "I give you my all!" he told the people.  Uh... thanks?

Cerberus Rex closed out the night and sounded in excellent form.  Pat Perkins and Z.V. House's guitars, Jake Hite's drums and Josh Galloway's voice and bass all roiled, roared and pulverized as one.  I like to think that you couldn't chalk up the crowd's more animated response to this set just to the drinks kicking in.  As usual, I couldn't tell you what Josh Galloway was bellowing up there.  As usual, that seemed beside the point--this was music designed to reach right into the id and blast it out.  The voice just helped it penetrate the conscious mind's defenses.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Demoni and Wilt Chamberlin's Baby @ Liquid (12/24/12)

A lot of people, I imagine, spent this last Christmas Eve off at church, at home with their loved ones or even just in front of their TV's watching It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Story for the umpteenth time.  Me, I found myself at home itching for something to do, so I decided to check out this show down at Liquid.  I'll leave it up to you to decide how sad that is.

Seriously, this show interested me because it represented a variety of firsts.  Not only would I get to write about two local groups for the first time, I'd get to cover a show at Liquid and a show set up by local label 1332 Records for the first time.  Besides, my family's favorite Christmas movie was always Die Hard, and I don't have a copy of it right now (have to remedy that...).

I counted about ten people at Liquid when I arrived, including Jennifer Orr of ORRiginal Promotions.  A few more would show up over the course of the night, including Justin Cantrell of the Shredder, Jason Rucker of the Useless/Third Base and the lead singer of Piranhas.  Fit audience let me find and all that.

Wilt Chamberlin's Baby opened the show.  This trio backed up their catchy pop-punk tunes with raspy vocals, buzzsaw guitar, melodious basslines and muscular, offhandedly ornate drumwork.  Impressive stuff.  Between songs, drummer J.R.'s oddball banter established him as possibly the goofiest bastard in southwest Idaho.  He got in a pretty good drum solo too.

His bandmates headed back to the bar during this part here.

Local psychobilly/surf band Demoni played next.  Here I was feeling all proud for noting the influence of the Misfits on their music and their tongue-in-cheek menacing vibe when I see that they list them on their Facebook page.  That's the arrogance of critics for ya.  Anyway, this group's soaring, metallic guitar, rumbling stand-up bass and rip-roaring drums demolished any qualms that I may have had about going out on Christmas Eve.  So did their high-energy stage act.

You can find info on these groups and 1332 Records on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Voice of Reason, The Steve Fulton Band, Pause for the Cause and Edmond Dantes @ the VaC (12/22/12)

I decided to check this show out because I wanted to show some support for Boise Rock School, who set the show up and who benefited from all of this night's proceeds.  Of course, it also helped that the bill featured two local acts I'd never seen before (well, I thought I hadn't, anyway) and synth-soul/funk duo Edmond Dantes, whom I've wanted to see again since the Go Listen Boise electronica show back in July.

I saw about twenty people at the VaC when I arrived.  Happily, that number would more than double as the night progressed.

Edmond Dantes opened the show.  Their tunes and hooks sounded every bit as elegant and entrancing as I remembered.  Ryan Peck's tight, fluid bass work and some slinky, intricate recorded beats wrapped around Andrew Stensaas's silken moan and warm synthesizer.  There wasn't much dancing during this set, but there was some good applause.

Up next was Meridian group Pause for the Cause.  This may be a bit of a backhanded compliment, but society must be improving when Meridian's getting their groove on.  Even before they played a cover of "Badfish," I'd remarked that these guys sounded quite a bit like Sublime.  That's not a bad thing--their catchy tunes, sharp arrangements, elastic basslines, fiery guitar solos, rock-steady drumming and interweaving vocals would've sounded just fine on 90's alternative radio.  They sounded just fine in 2012 too.

After Pause for the Cause came the Steve Fulton Band.  As it turned out, I had already seen Fulton back when his old band, House of Hoi Polloi, opened for the B-52's.  I remember thinking that they were so-so, but that could've just been impatience on my part (they weren't the group I wanted to see).  Anyway, I found Fulton's clear tenor, clipped soloing and inspired blend of blues, country and reggae much more than so-so this time around.  It undoubtedly helped that he had some tough, twangy bass, percolating drums and wailing organ (courtesy of old Hoi Polloi compatriot Russ Pfeifer) backing him up.  This set also featured some smooth rapping from local emcee Exit Prose (formerly known as Timbuk II of Kamphire Collective).

Local reggae group Voice of Reason closed out the night.  Perhaps it was the same as when I saw Hoi Polloi open for the B-52's, but this group impressed me much more here than they did when they opened for Toots and the Maytals back in July.  Frontman John Hoonhout's bluesy licks sounded more distinctive, and the Jamaican accent that he adopted while singing was uncanny--it sounded like the genuine article, not some affectation.  His bandmates' high harmonies, sly basslines, lithe drumming and tasteful horn interjections all followed suit.  I grew too tired to stay for the entirety of their second set, but the band and a handful of people were still going strong when I left around 1 AM.

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Redrick Sultan, The Bare Bones and Jory Edwards @ the Crux (12/21/12)

There's something rather beautiful, I think, in the fact that so much stuff was happening around Boise on the night when the world was supposed to end (again).  Wicked Wonderland held its Zombie Apocalypse show at Bogie's, Hot Dog Sandwich threw a punk rock party at the Red Room and Liquid featured a couple of acts that seemed interesting.  I opted to see Orriginal Promotions' show at the Crux because it featured Redrick Sultan, a group I'd never encountered before who hailed all the way from Vancouver.

I counted only fourteen people at the Crux when I arrived.  That number would dwindle to eight (including me) and then five when Redrick Sultan played.  Disappointing, especially considering that I'd see at least three times as many people doing karaoke at Neurolux later.  Oh well.

Local musician Jory Edwards opened the night.  His choice of covers tended towards the corny side ("Hallelujah"--again?  "Freebird"--really?), but his steady strumming and clean, cannily restrained tenor put them across respectably.  Also, I had to give the guy credit for showing me that actually, yeah, Dave Matthews and Third Eye Blind did write some good songs (I know--I'll turn in my hipster card after Christmas).  Maybe he could add "Wildflowers" to his repertoire of Tom Petty songs.  Always liked that one.

The Bare Bones played next.  This was their second gig playing with new bassist Ben Zickau, Chris Brock said at one point.  He seems to be fitting in nicely: Zickau's basslines may not have been as supple as Nathan Norton's, but they still sounded plenty fluid and added considerable weight and muscle to the band's groove.  Meanwhile, Aaron Bossart's drumming sounded as furious and dynamic as ever.  Last but definitely not least, Chris Brock seems to be growing into the role of frontman very well indeed: his vocals showed extra strength and assurance, and his sharp soloing matched them.

Redrick Sultan closed out the night.  This was another one of those sets that remind me why I keep writing this blog.  Only eight people were there to see them, but this Vancouver group played as if there were eighty or more.  Their goofy, oddball, audacious mix of jazz, funk, hard rock and reggae made me think of the Minutemen if they'd stretched out beyond the two/three minute mark more often.  Chanking guitar, liquid basslines and syncopated, astonishingly kinetic drumwork supported boyish vocals and tasteful (but not too tasteful) flute and trombone solos (the guitarist got some good licks in too).  Their charming tunes and strong, sprightly groove elicited wild applause from the handful of folks inside the Crux and a considerable amount of rubbernecking from passers-by.  Hopefully, these guys will play Boise again and to a larger audience.

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Red Hands Black Feet, First Borns and Lakefriend @ the Red Room (12/20/12)

In a way, this show had been about a year in the making.  That's how long it had taken Red Hands Black Feet to record, mix, master and release their debut album, These Things Are Important.  From what I've heard, it had been tough finding the time and the money to get it done, but they finally did it.  Given how much praise I've heaped on this group, I probably don't even need to write that I put this show down on my calendar as soon as I heard about it.

Happily, I apparently wasn't the only one.  I counted about forty-five people when I got down to the Red Room.  By the time that Red Hands Black Feet played, that number had to have climbed to seventy if not higher.  It feels good to know that I'm not the only one who loves this group.

Caldwell group Lakefriend opened the show.  They sounded a touch tamer and looser than I've seen them recently, which gave me space to notice how quite a few of their songs seem to follow the same basic pattern (fast section, stop-start section, etc.).  This doesn't mean that they weren't still enjoyable, however.  Also, Gabe Arellano's bass playing sounded much smoother and more confident that it did at the Cheap Time show.  This helped ensure that, when they all hit their groove, Mason Johnson and Matt Stone's complementary guitars and Jacob Milburn's rapid drumming took off once again.

Local group First Borns played next and sounded in excellent form.  Erik Butterworth's drums sounded especially strong and added extra propulsion and power to Alex Hecht's chiming guitar and Christopher Smith's rumbling, droning bass.  A couple of new (I think) surf-punkish songs sounded good and menacing while their older material was as broodingly tuneful as ever.

Red Hands Black Feet closed out the night with a downright majisterial performance.  They glided, weaved, slammed and rumbled their way through the entirety of their album as if it were second nature to them (which, after playing the same damn stuff for at least two years, it probably is).  The audience seemed to know the songs by heart too: I heard folks cheering climaxes and shifts in mood and tempo.  This was in addition to the usual headbanging, whooping and screaming that RHBF's music tends to provoke.  Even one of the Red Room's bartenders gave them the thumbs-up.  The band members gave the love right back with multiple thank-you's to the crowd and to the people who have supported them (Eric Gilbert, Josh Gross, etc.).

This night reconfirmed a belief that I've held for a while: that this is a great band and one that deserves recognition beyond Idaho.  Now that they've got their music recorded, maybe they can truly start to make that happen.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.