Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eons, Rocky Mountain District, Banned Books, Rollersnakes and Hot Lava @ the Red Room (5/13/13)

A press release that I received piqued my interest in this show.  A band who makes "beautifully damaged avant-pop music" and opened for Deerhoof, tUnE-yArDs and Delicate Steve?  Sounded like they'd be worth a shot at least.  Also, I'd never seen Hot Lava before and wanted to see how Rollersnakes struck me a second time around.

There were about fifteen people at the Red Room when I arrived.  I don't think that the audience ever rose above twenty for the entire night.  So it goes on a Monday, I guess.

Hot Lava kicked off the night's music.  This young local band sounded a little stiff here and there--their lead singer admitted that they hadn't played in a while--but overall, they got a more than decent groove going.  They had plenty of other stuff going for them too: well-crafted songs, chugging bass, charging beats, rousing riffs.  I guess you could call them pop-punk, but that doesn't sound quite right.  Power-pop, maybe?  Halfway between late-seventies punk and early-eighties "new wave"?  In any case, good stuff.

Rollersnakes played next.  Their fuzzy guitar, bashing drums and unvarnished vocals proved every bit as enjoyable as they did at last January's Rich Hands show.  Probably more, actually, since I could reflect on just how sharp their riffs and tunes are.  Also, while they still seemed a little shy, they looked and sounded more comfortable and confident than I remembered.

Up next was Banned Books.  I was tempted to call this Philadelphia group what Deerhoof might sound like once the Blue Fairy turns them into a real band, but that's a touch too snarky and not entirely accurate besides.  Still, their jerky, lurching grooves called Deerhoof to mind, and their robust rapport and smoothly crooned vocals topped them.  I don't know how Deerhoof fans would feel about their gleefully ear-wrenching guitar and synthesizer.  Me, I liked them fine.  The meager crowd seemed to as well: almost everyone stayed close to the stage for the duration of the set.

After Banned Books came Rocky Mountain District, the first of two Utah hardcore bands who got added to the bill at the last minute (a gig at the Shredder had apparently fallen through due to some scheduling mix-up).  This may be the only hardcore band I've heard where the silence around the tumult resonated as powerfully as the tumult itself.  Not that this duo's frantic drums, bipolar guitar and howled vocals weren't respectably tortured and furious.  It's just that their penchant for ominous, ambient drones and the spaces in their spare sound gave the music a fascinating screaming-into-the-cold-void feel.  Arty, brooding, lonesome stuff.

Eons closed out the night.  This quintet's sound was more straight-ahead melodic hardcore than Rocky Mountain District's: relentless rhythms, raging guitars, bellowed vocals.  They concentrated most of their power in the bass and drums, however, and their limber groove helped win me over.  It was also nice that they didn't feel the need to show off their chops too much.  Seemed like awfully nice guys as well: they joked around a bit, thanked the audience more than a few times (particularly the Boise friend who'd helped them get this gig), urged people to support Banned Books and movingly disclosed how one song was inspired by a close friend killing himself (condolences to lead singer Matt Wiley).

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Wes Malvini and the Red Room.  If you like what you've read and would like to help keep it going, click the yellow "Give" button and donate whatever you can.  Even $5 could go a long way.

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