Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Starskate, the Hoot Hoots, JamesPlaneWreck and Sun Blood Stories @ the Red Room (4/26/12)

I'd liked what I'd heard by the Hoot Hoots but missed them at Treefort, so this show caught my interest right off the bat.  And sure, I've seen Sun Blood Stories and JamesPlaneWreck more than a few times, but it ain't like I can't stand to see 'em again.

I grew a little concerned when I got down to the Red Room and found only seven people there.  "On a warm Friday evening in Spring?" I thought.  "What is this town coming to?"  Thankfully, the crowd would build to over fifty as the night wore on.

Sun Blood Stories opened the night.  I don't know if their Country & Western look (sequined shirt, bolo tie, Mexican dress) was a tip of the hat to the late George Jones, but regardless, they sounded in excellent form. Amber Pollard's vocals sounded especially fine--gal's got some heat in her voice.  Not that Ben Kirby got caught slacking: he worked his purr and growl with even more nuance than usual.  Meanwhile, Kirby's primal riffs and shrieking solos, Brett Hawkins's lumbering drums and Andy Rayborn's cooing, bleating sax fell into an easy, seemingly effortless groove.  The sound was just clear enough and just murky enough to create a nice, sweaty Exile on Main St. feel.  I'll admit, though, that I kinda missed seeing this group on a big stage.  Oh well.  All in good time, I'm sure.

JamesPlaneWreck played next and kept the ball rolling.  Aaron Smith and Shane Brown's vocals were strong and on-key (the soundboard work did right by them too: I don't think Brown's voice has ever sounded clearer).  Their guitars snarled, Shaun Shireman's bass zoomed down the tracks and I'm still amazed that Andrew Bagley's arms don't just fly off his body.  Sure, they hit a few sour notes, but with music so proudly down-and-dirty, you almost want a few sour notes.  In any case, the crowd whooped and boogied throughout and sang the chorus to "Fuckin' With Ghosts" good and loud.  A couple people told me during the set that JPW is their favorite local band.  Can't fault 'em for that.

Up next were the Hoot Hoots.  This Seattle band could've gotten over just fine on their slashing guitar, bouncy beats and mega-catchy tunes.  However, with the addition of Christina Ellis's 8-bit synthesizer and hilarious pantomiming and dance moves (the Monkey!), they were utterly irresistible.  Of course, the jokey, horny, snarky lyrics didn't hurt either.  Their music had a slight 60's pop-rock feel to it, but they felt much smarter and warmer than your average revivalist/appropriator.  Except maybe for Andy D or Bad Weather California, I can't remember the last act I saw that was so much straight-up fun.

Apparently, Andy Rayborn got so carried away with his dancing during this set that he accidentally punched Amber Pollard and Nathan Norton in the mouth.  Always gotta watch the quiet ones...

Starskate closed out the night.  This Oakland band wasn't quite as enjoyable as the Hoot Hoots, but their rough vocals, rousing tunes, buzzing guitars and angular, robotic rhythms still provided a solid finale to the night.  The crowd thinned out some, but about thirty people stayed to cheer these guys on as they jumped and lunged on the stage.

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