Monday, March 2, 2009
The Kids Are Alright
Last Thursday, Stacey and I actually went out to a local club to see some bands. My friends, The Bye Bye Blackbirds were doing a show with 2 other local bands; The Parties and B and Not B. Bradley (of the BBB's) was pretty adamant that we would like the other 2 bands and that we should really try to make the show. Really try is an understatement...it is so hard to get me to go to a club to see bands these days...I'm old and can drink beer for much less money at home.
But the club (Starry Plough in Berkeley) is pretty close by and aside from supporting our pals, we both thought it would be nice to hear what music the kids are making these days. (I'm not being patronizing by using the word "kids"...just stating the facts..the parents of The Parties' front man were there and looked about my age...or younger....gulp.)
All 3 bands blew me away!
First up were B and Not B. They have a very dynamic front man with interesting songs. Hard to describe...some of the melodies were adventurous (not too unlike something Scott Miller could conceive), along with interesting arrangements. At least one song reminded me of Sparks. Extra points for the drummer using the traditional drumstick grip, and it's always cool to have a designated backup singer that stands there all alone on the front of the stage without an instrument to hide behind.
Next, were The Bye Bye Blackbirds. I really don't think I'm being biased here because they are my friends, but truly...they just keep getting better. They are craftsmen that must work hard at what they do. The songwriting keeps branching out. They performed a couple of new tunes that blew my skirt up. I keep hearing bits and pieces of country-rock seeping in to their sound, and it seems like it's a very comfortable fit. William Duke (the bass player) has a new song that is totally epic. Odd structure, but it involves me in a very good way.
Up last were The Parties. Hard to go wrong with a bunch of skinny, good looking guys with great hair that can actually sing, play and entertain. There is definitely a mod/mid 60's Brit thing going on, but they do it flawlessly. Their show felt loose, but they were tight. Front man has amazing stage presence, and I enjoyed the hell out of their show!
I gotta mention that there were 2 common attributes that all 3 bands displayed that I love to see and hear. First, they all looked good. I used to not care about what a band looks or dresses like, but now that I'm not up on the stage, I really appreciate when a band dresses up. I saw a lot of jackets, vests and ties, and I think that looks good. Way back in the day, Scott wanted Game Theory to all dress in sport coats and turtle neck sweaters, like he's wearing on Real Nighttime. I balked - I was just out of a Gothic rock band that put a lot of emphasis on fashion, and I was not comfortable with that. I thought a band should just be plain ol' folks up on stage, playing well. On a more practical level, I thought I would die from heat stroke! The concept went no further, but now I look back and realize Scott was just trying to come up with something that would set us apart from all of the other bands. Not a bad idea.
The other thing that impressed me with all 3 bands were the vocal harmonies. All of these guys could sing and most importantly, sing well together. I don't think there's any other thing a band can do that will get my attention more than good vocals. It sounds good, and not an easy thing to do. That type of work can really pay off.
Bradley - thanks.