Sunday, April 7, 2013

Merchandise, Wet Hair and First Borns @ Neurolux (4/2/13)

What with the remainder of my Treefort coverage and the shows I'd seen since then that needed reviewing, I had a fair amount of work to take care of this past Tuesday.  Still, enough people had expressed excitement about Merchandise playing the Neurolux that I decided I could put that stuff on hold and check it out.

I'd had coffee with a friend at the Flying M that afternoon, so I got there good and early for the first time in a while.  I counted a little over twenty people at that point.  The crowd would peak at about thirty-four or thirfty-five.  Not bad.  I was kinda disappointed, though, that this spiffy light show got tested out during soundcheck (flashing, multi-colored circles spinning and darting all over the wall behind the stage) but never got used during the show.

First Borns opened the show.  Like the Gunfighters and Junior Rocket Scientist, these guys seemed to have stepped up their game considerably from their pre-Treefort performances.  Christopher Smith's tuneful basslines, Alex Hecht's ringing, hypnotic guitar lines and especially Erik Butterworth's driving drums all sounded fiercer than they ever have before.  Their older songs sounded reborn, and their newer material was equally strong.  Very impressive.

Up next was Wet Hair, a trio from Iowa City.  These guys sounded so much like First Borns in some ways that it was almost uncanny: pretty tunes, plain vocals, tuneful basslines, propulsive drumming, curlicuing synth riffs.  They felt much airier and more disco-ish than the locals, however, thanks in part to the intricate cymbal work.  The drums sounded a little low in the mix, but maybe that was just the way these guys like it.  Anyway, less Joy Division, more New Order.  Worked for me.

Merchandise closed out the night.  Now I kinda regret using adjectives like "fierce" and "pumped-up" so much.  I should have saved that stuff for this group here.  The slowest that this Tampa band got was a number that mixed slow-jam funk with Sabbath-esque sludge metal.  Other than that, their warped guitars, bullet-train bass and furious, Buddy-Rich-on-crank drumming got me nodding so vigorously that I started getting a little faint (I probably should have eaten more before the show).  It wasn't all just full-on aggression, however: the rhythms were supple enough that people could and did dance.  Carson Cox's limited, smartly subdued vocals gave the music some give too.  Grand fun.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.

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