Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Music from the heart after my own heart

Friday night I went and saw the best music ever: My two darling kids at their schools annual Winter Sing. I've shot the audience at this many years: like any grade school presentation audience, they're the dream audience, because there's nothing the kids on stage can do wrong. Glaring errors and their consequences are part of the entertainment, missed cues are glossed over, biffed notes are expected, glaring errors are quickly forgiven. The look on every parents face is a combination of love, wonder, pride and reminiscence. This audience only sees beauty in these performers, and that's a wonderful audience to have when you're onstage. And of course this audience only sees beauty? What else is there? Because when the kids open up their mouths to sing, they're not doing it to win some contest or make their stage mom rich. They just know a song and belt it out, and espectially with the little ones, with a joy so big you expect them to explode. The older ones are proud of the tougher stuff put before them, the little ones just happy to sing a song they know well, complete with hand motions and facial expressions and delivery that come from deep within their heart. They weren't even nervous. It's a delivery that only the best adults can come up with, because there's nothing like whether they're going to get paid or not or what the reviewer is going to say in the way of the music.

Saturday I braved the cold and (lecture time: you guys should be lucky I went out at all seeing as how I only found out about this show through a Friday posting on myspace) saw Danny Price and the Loose Change open for Floor Model at the Riverwest Commons. Actually, there was an opening band called A Late Sky that didn't do a lot for me. Probably because they reminded me of Bruce Hornsby or Dave Matthews and the like, and Hornsby and Matthews don't do a lot for me. It's the American wistful thing going, except that there didn't seem to be any kind of dynamics going on. Good background bar music, but nothing that inspired me to wade through he crowd and give them my undivided attention. Plus, I think these kids are new to the scene and they need to learn a bit of band etiquette. Rule 1: Always acknowledge the other bands on the bill while you're on stage. . In fact, thank them even if you don't know them or think they suck. Example, "We'd like to thank so-and-so and blah blah blah for having us out tonight." Rule 2: Acknowledge the other bands OFF the stage, too. Find them. Trade business cards with them. Tell YOUR fans to stick around and check them out, and not just on stage. Rule 3: YOU should stick around and check them out. Maybe this all happened, but it was like these guys played and got the hell out of there and took their fans with them, leaving a few hypercritical fans to watch the two remaining bands. You can violate these rules if you're massively established and you don't need to network, but ALS (yes, they use these initials and honestly, guys, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to name your band after Lou Gehrig's Disease) is not at that level yet. But back to the music. It was OK, I guess. I'm just not into that kind of thing, even if you're trying to evoke a classic Jackson Browne album with your name.

Danny Price and the Loose Change was next. I know who Danny Price is because he's sat in with sixthstation favorites Eat The Mystery (and they share Paul Setser on keys between them) and after hearing them, I can say they're kindred spirits working in different genres. Price writes entertainingly sad songs, almost drinking songs, but in that country/folky road that ALS was traveling down. Part Neil Young, part Tom Waits in terms of lyrics and general feel, but Price actually has a nice voice. Daring with the arrangements, too: First song was titled "Love Song for a Succubus" and while (and Price admits this) the chord changes themselves were basic and simple, they were augmented with some intriguingly messed up time signatures and changes -- a tool I don't normally hear in this genre. I'd say the first half of the set was definitely stronger than the second half, but Price has lots of great raw ideas that will be worth watching the progression to a polished act.



floor model drummer in ecstacy.
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Floor Model just gets better and tighter every time I see them. Great power punk trio whose snottyness just gets more distinct as they tighten up their songs, act, and delivery. It's worth squinting your eyes and ears to catch all their subtle and not so subtle jabs at cultural stupidity. "NASCAR Mentality" doesn't just smack that particular sub-culture, it actually takes a hit at all hyper-inclusive cultures. If they lived 30 miles south, they'd fit in well with all the Keno-Core bands set to invade the Miramar Theatre this coming Saturday. (more on that later…). As it is, I talked to Floor Model's Jeff Callesen and they'll be there as fans anyway.

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