Last night I had the pleasure of attending a show at the Middle East Downstairs, thanks to my buddy Dev. The lineup: Barnicle, The Toothaches, Bon Savants, and finally Freezepop. We came in near the beginning of Barnicle’s set, so I had a chance to check out each of the acts, none of which I knew anything about beforehand.
The Barnicle’s were pretty neat. As is par for the course for such things, the engineer wasn’t EQing for a female vocalist, so I have no idea how lyrically interesting the songs were; however, the band is a solid rock/pop fourpiece with some good hooks and booty-shaking beats. They reminded me a lot of early Tsunami Bomb, but without the punk-rock aesthetic. The swarm of under-21 fans close up to the stage leads me to believe that they’re fairly young, but I really have no idea. I did hang back, however, so as not to be the creepy guy with a beer standing in the middle of the college kids.
Irony: Low, Musicianship: Medium, Look: Medium. Overall: Generally Medium+
Next up, the Toothaches. As it so happens, I knew the main singer/keyboardist/percussionist/crowd riler, Rose. I used to work with her, and didn’t know she was in a band! So that was a fun surprise. The Toothaches are a pretty non-standard rock outfit, with songs full to bursting with funness and randomocity. Also, oversized sunglasses. Not the best dancing music, but definitly something to out-indie your friends with. And catching up with Rose after their set was cool.
Irony: High, Musicianship: High but Wierd, Look: Good. Overall: Wierdly High
So, our prediction was that the next band would continue the trend of female singers, hopefully adding more keyboards. Unfortunately, such was not to be. Bon Vivant…well, I think we ended up categorizing them as music to pretentiously make out too (which was happening around us, by the by). An all-male four-piece with a vaguely indie-rock sound (imagine the Killers or the Strokes in terms of the voice), they did no crowd-working whatsover and managed to string their set together into a mess of “which-song-are-they-on-again?” underwhelmingness. Not only did they not fit into the rest of the night musically, I found their stage presence to be pretentious and their music to be completely non-memorable
Irony: High, in the bad way. Musicianship: Technically good. Look: Who? Overall: Poor
And finally, Freezepop. I have much love in my heart for all things electro, and by the time we had waded through Bon Vivant I was aching to dance, so the heavy synth beats and bleep-bleep riffs were a sorely-needed climax to the evening. I was told by my older friends that they were basically Devo but with a chick singer; I’m too young for Devo to have been a big part of my upbringing, so I’m glad I’ve found the modern equivalent. With songs ranging in subject matter from ninjas to sharks to local wierd celebrity DJ Nighttrain, not to mention covers of Depeche Mode and Europe, I was in keytaur heaven. My only ish was that they broke between songs to work the audience, which was cool, but I was in dance mode so it kind of broke the groove a bit. But that’s a small ish to have. If I had had any cash left I would have bought stuff; as it was, today saw me making an iTunes purchase to tide me over until after holidays, when I can pick up some CDs without feeling guilty.
Irony: High, in the best way. Musicianship: Awesome. Look: Grand. Overall: My legs are sore from dancing!
Overall, a solid evening. If you’re into 80s kitsch and sweet electro, I heartily recommend some Freezepop for you; also, give The Toothaches a look if you have wierd taste in rock music.