Crash of the Bands
I dive right into this review, because Snooky dives right into the set. Valdean takes the stage, barely counts in the song, and there they go: four players whose versatility on each of their instruments is just as wide as Valdean and his voice. I can only imagine what their collective records collections look like, because their website description is true: they have elements of metal (well more than just elements of metal), jazz, ska, blues, alternative, and on top of it all, a healthy skeptical punk attitude that endeared me to them the first time I ever saw them. Guitarist Billy Eddie looks like he'd be in some shouegazing 90s band, but plays like he's ready to audition for Anthrax. Bassist Eric Christian is all over that thing, and I can't tell if he's showing off, or if it's just easier to finger high notes on a bass by playing it upside down. He's approaching the instrument both as a rhythm and lead instrument, but not obnoxiously so (at least not musically). And Brian and I shook our heads over drummer Tony Rogan, whom we've known since his old punk days in Racine's The Moths. Punk drummers aren't supposed to be steeped in complex, jazz-influenced riffs and messed up time signatures. What a satisfying treat these guys are. Here's a dream lineup of like minded musicians I'd like to see on a bill in Milwaukee: Snooky, IROCKZ, and Crumpler. Three bands who take every musical influence they've ever heard and successfully cram it into a 45 minute set. Club owners, are you listening?
Opening the set was an outfit that basically sounded like the bloody remains of a terrible tour bus crash between Pantera and Pearl Jam. They were called Dirtknap, and the singer had this Eddie Vedder tonal quality going on (when he wasn't doing cookie monster vocals), almost down to Vedder's insistence of singing vowels in his mouth rather than his throat. We were late; we only caught about 4 songs, and normally, I wouldn't have liked that combination, but they were another band that was able to vary their delivery enough that I could enjoy what they were doing musically. I liked them enough to look them up on myspace, and would definitely recommend them to metal heads. Warning, guys, there's another band on myspace called Dirtknap (I'm not kidding!) and they have a similar style. Plus, the "other" dirtknap is out of Kalamazoo -- that's too close for comfort. Somebody is going to make it to the trademark office first.
Following Snooky was Milwaukee's Thin the Herd. They were pretty darn good, too, but the problem was, they had to follow Snooky and off the top of my head, absent of the aforementioned IROCKZ or Crumpler, I'm not sure anybody could have successfully done that. I wouldn't have wanted to try, that's for sure. More of the genre: screaming vox, tight playing using syncopated rhythmic structures, but we were already burned out from my company holiday party, a babysitting curfew looming down our throats, and a little tired of screamed vocals. I need to give them another chance on a fresh night.
And here I am now, it's two days later: that's how intense the night at the BBC was -- I had to let it sink in before writing about these bands. Well executed metal is definitely alive and living in SE Wisconsin, that's for sure.