Saturday, April 28, 2007

Interlude: Boys and Girls in America


We take a break from the blazing Indio Valley for a quick retreat into the relatively temperate, if recently damp, Washington Square Park South. Many thanks to the Program Board for putting together another great show, to the bands that performed, and to the DJ for playing so many female-fronted rock bands (and air drumming).

Michael Jordan

This was...different: loud, dissonant, abrasive noise from a quintet of NYU'ers. As my friend remarked the bass and (dual) drumming wasn't bad, but the frenzied guitar, squeaky violin, and mildly irritating vocals made for the most painful set I've ever experienced. Stylistic incompatibility aside, they did kick off a high energy night with a very dynamic stage presence, and deserve an "A" for effort. If your ears are made of sterner stuff than mine, click below.

MySpace: Michael Jordan

The Thermals

The Thermals
took no prisoners in a roaring set that matched their openers in volume, but surpasses most of their peers in content. Their most recent work, The Body, The Blood, The Machine, is an intensely political album, and that social frustration was definitely conveyed through Hutch Harris' commanding voice. While their set resembled one long rallying cry, with one short, crunchy songs transitioning to another, the intensity level didn't ebb. And then there was the stage diving, which really picked up with "Here's Your Future," and continued throughout. The only minor flaw was a short break due to some technical difficulties, but once that was resolved, the band rocked onwards.

Check out a feature on the Thermals in Washington Square News. (Represent!)

MP3: The Thermals - A Pillar of Salt
Buy: Here
Official Site: The Thermals

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady's frontman Craig Finn is a swell guy, but to say that he's an acquired taste is a bit of an understatement. His modus operandi is akin to spoken word, and this unconventional delivery is probably the greatest obstacle towards appreciating the group as a whole. While I'm not sold on it - I think that some of the most effective moments were when he dipped into a more straightforward croon - but there were lines that were legitimately poetic, as on the opener "Positive Jam." He stalked the stage like a demagogue, often throwing his arms out or moving away from the mic and repeating a line, and while he's not your usual frontman, he was very involved. The performance also dispelled any notion that the band's merely about booze, as political issues and surprisingly touching anecdotes mixed with the odes to alcohol.

While my focus was on Finn, the rest of the band wasn't bad. It was pretty straight-up rock, although they'd occasionally chip in to a chorus (such as on "Southtown Girls") or a highlight a guitar solo courtesy of Tad Kubler. The crowd helped things along, participating in particularly anthemic shouts, waving, jumping, and generally doing what crowds do. Although Finn's vocals lacked the bite of the Thermals, stage diving remained very much en vogue, and it seemed to propel both the band and the audience to greater heights.

Towards the tail of the show, a couple events of note occurred. Guitarist Kubler was pretty adventurous, first climbing up on the column of speakers and later doing some crowd surfing of his own (see below). But what really struck me was the last thing Finn said, about how much of a joy it was to play, and to share that joy with us. While I wasn't enraptured by the show, I can understand that sentiment completely. Rock on!

Here's the Hold Steady at Schubas in Chicago on March 12th, 2004. Enjoy:

1. Positive Jam
2. The Swish
3. Hostile, Mass,
4. Most People Are DJs
5. Knuckles
6. Certain Songs
7. Barfruit Blues
8. Milkcrate Mosh
9. Killer Parties

MP3: The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations

Buy: Here
Official Site: The Hold Steady


matt said...

I for one, love the Hold Steady and have had no problem accepting the vocal stylings of Mr. Finn. Thanks for the show!

james hodges said...


Christy said...

Yay! I'm mentioned in passing. I think that the Hold Steady's guitar work should get more credit though. Pity I missed the crowdsurfing of Kubler. That would have been awesome to run away from.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...