Saturday, February 14, 2009

A trio of trios and some great bikers

At the very last minute, I was informed that The Unheard Of was playing at a place in Cudahy called On the Limiter, just a block north of Layton west of KK. I've been wanting to finally catch this band (which features WMSE Saturday morning DJ Dietrich -- who isn't on the air right now because he's probably sleeping in) and I thought I'd have to miss them. Tonight is the big Atomic Valentine show, and The Unheard Of, along with Voot Warnings, are playing at Cochanski's in one of those band-by-band smackdowns. If it weren't for the send off for Atomic tonight, I'd be there.

But I'm glad I hit this great little bar in Cudahy that seems built for bands. Not a bad stage (but the backlighting pretty much made me accept that available light photography was NOT going to be happening here all that much). I walked in at what I thought was the end of a set from Waukesha's False Hope, a trio of part emo, part rawk, even part garage. They weren't bad -- they had great use of dynamics in their songwriting, good use of tempo changes. Their rhythm section needs to listen to each other more -- they were out of sync a few times and I think their bass player was too worried about being in sync with the guitarist more. The guitar player was mentioning "we have a couple more." Then they quit. They were called back for an encore, which ended up being something like 7 songs. Then their friends called them back for another encore, which turned out to be four more songs. That would have been OK, except they took something like 2 minutes between each song, and frankly, it wasn't their strongest material: they were playing for the sake of playing more, not because they had some blistering sound they were going to leave me with. They should have quit after the 3rd song in Enccore #1 -- that was a trio of good fuzzy rants that would have warmed up the crowd for the next band, and left people wanting more. The Rule of Frankovic, boys: Always Leave Them Wanting, rather than Overly Full. Get a set list -- stick to it, and have a couple (three tops) of strong encore tunes, because without these things, guys, you came off sloppy and that's not a final impression you want to leave people with.

The Unheard Of takes the stage, and they're strong and terrific. the sound is basically a really great 60s biker-era band that managed to get in a collasal pile up crash with The Magic Bus. They start out sounding like the Fuzztones complete with farfisa sounding organ, fuzzy, distorted guitars and thumping bass, but then they dive into a pool of sweet psychedlic jamming. And they look like the perfect band to be playing at Rockerbox (I admit I got that visual after seeing fans in the audience with Rockerbox T-Shirts on). Keyboardist had a series of candles all over his workstation, and I distinctly smelled some great hippie incense infusing the room by song 3. I'll be back to see these guys again, that's for sure. Best part: the old cassette recorder on the ground -- a low-fi way of rolling tape that I'm sure worked well for this band.

Ended the night with a trip to the East Side. Figures -- I finally get an excellent place to park on the East Side (right in front of the BBC) and the band I came to see -- Revolush -- had already played. I listened to the band onstage to see if I wanted to pay cover anyway, and, sorry, I didn't. It was some generic pop rock with this female singer who was jumping all over the stage, but it didn't seem like it was because she had endearing boundless energy, it was more because she wanted everybody to think she was cute. Pass.

Over the river and up the Hill to Locust Street, where I popped into the Riverwest Commons to see 1956. Frankly, I wasn't sure how well that was going to work, but they worked the sound system in there adequately, and a good band with strong songs is going to sound good in any circumstances. 1956 has this vibe going that's hard to describe -- they're definitely a power trio, but I've written this before, they're hooky enough to even get some radio hits underneath the brooding sound. Sometimes they're even toe-tappingly good.

It was a good pairing with Crumpler, who have the same dichotomy going: brooding but almost happy pop. Crumpler's takes it in a proggier direction and they're kind of self-conscious about it: "That song had exactly 43,245 notes in it" they mentioned after a tune that was so loaded with syncopated pentatonic triplet runs I almost started laughing. The self-consciousness saves them from being hot-doggy: you know they know they're showing off, but they're so good at it that you're glad then can do these things. Like 1956, I need to get out and see these guys more often.

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