Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bitter American, Sickoids, Stockpile at Wasted Dream

On Friday, Bitter American, Sickoids and Stockpile packed the basement at Wasted Dream while I took a comfortable spot on the stairs.

Bitter American played their first show, yet already have a demo. (Should I say allegedly have a demo since they forgot it at home?) They recorded it before playing live. The band features members of Deathrats, State Violence, Lotus Fucker, Mob Mentality, Hubris, Sick Fix (as of last week - taking over the bass after Jeremy quit), Zhenia Golov, and Natural Law - aka Brad, Brian, and Rob. Very busy guys (and I left out their defunct bands.) Plus, Rob is driving a trolley, which is just cool, but I'm beginning to digress. In this band, they are going for a late Black Flag sound.
The Sickoids from Philly sounded great. Before they started playing, I complimented the singer on his Necros shirt and, annoyingly, he looked at me like I was an ant. (Of course, he may not have heard my words or me appreciating his shirt caught him off guard. Honestly, though, how often do you see Necros shirts? Even on E-Bay, I only come across the one that's, in essence, a Misfits flyer.) Anyway, my friend Jason regarded The Sickoids as a clone band of Government Warning - maybe because the guitarist from Government Warning plays in the Sickoids? I wholeheartedly disagree, which I noted before Jason bicycled away. The main similarity between the Sickoids and Government Warning is that they contain good musicians. The Sickoids possess a more metal touch than Government Warning does. The Sickoids songs are complex for 80s-style punk/hardcore. I wouldn't label them derivative. The only deja vu musical moment for me happened as their set ended. A Subhumans-style riff propelled their last song.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Aloners & Face the Rail

Last night, my band, The Aloners, played with Face the Rail, Xerox Page (? - from San Francisco and weren't on the flier, but were added on Monday), and State Violence at Wasted Dream aka Dan's basement. I thought the show was supposed to start at 7:00 p.m. I rushed home from work, ate, and got there what I thought was a few minutes late. I walked into a yard empty except for Pat's guitar and pedal board. I made a few phone calls, which resulted in Pat unlocking the basement door for me and retrieving his equipment. Then, I discovered that the show was advertised as starting at 8:00 p.m. Dan said that we should go on 8:30ish.

Dan's basement was hot and humid. My strings got slick from sweat as my hand moved across them. I enjoyed playing, though.

Face the Rail from San Francisco are show veterans, sharing members with Nightstick Justice and Ecoli. They offer intensity and hooks - what more could a person want? Their sound is reminiscent of 80s punk, like a modern day Nardcore band or in the vein of NOTA. Unlike those bands, they've added fuzz to their guitars and complex bass lines. I hope I get the chance to see them play again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Troubled Sleep from Brooklyn

Troubled Sleep from Brooklyn played a matinee show today in the basement of the Corpse Fortress. I sat on the stairs and, unfortunately, while I could see the singer's lips moving, I heard no vocals. A friend, who stood in the middle of the room, relayed to me that the singer did make a sound, which he didn't like. He criticized the singer's pitch and timing. Ouch.

Joe Mitra recorded Troubled Sleep in Baltimore and describes them as reminiscent of Sonic Youth. I agree with the Sonic Youth/Ciccone Youth comparison somewhat. Their songs showcase pretty melodies as well as a few harsh, dissonant chords. One of their songs contains blues riffs. So, musical variety.

At times, hiss or static overlays their melodies, creating an eerie sense of nostalgia like the crackle in a warbling tune as an old phonographic needle hits lint on a vinyl record. The melody remains discernible but, still, less than fully present. The band deserves points for their style and a mastery of multimeasure rests. Abrupt stops and starts give the audience a chance to absorb the musical activity and adds suspense before the song resumes full force.

Troubled Sleep sold their songs on cassette tapes, a retro medium that is difficult to digitize - denying the point-and-click status quo. Once upon a time, people compiled mixed tapes to share songs with friends. Now, there are fewer cassette tape players in most areas of the country than goats in New York City (at least based on what I've heard about goats on NPR).

I should check with other show attendees. I hope what I heard was not just a weird quirk of where I sat. Anyway, I enjoyed hearing Troubled Sleep and hope to see them play again with a properly functioning PA, microphone, and amplifiers.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ft. Reno - Laughing Man & The Evens

Ft. Reno is a large, hilly, grassy park where bands play free concerts on a temporary stage every summer. The Ft. Reno concert series ends with an Ian MacKaye band playing - almost a decade ago the band was, allegedly, always Fugazi and, now, it is The Evens.

On Thursday, August 4th, I ate a sandwich at Sticky Fingers and joined the picnicking crowd at Ft. Reno. The road parallel to the park was lined this year by food trucks. My friend Matt tried to buy a vegan berry pie from the truck selling homemade pies, but, by the time he ambled over there, only sodas remained.

Laughing Man is a DC band that calls itself a punk-jazz hybrid. When my band The Aloners played with them in March at The Red Door, the size of the room pared the size of the band down to a traditional electric bass, guitar, and drums. The expanse of the Ft. Reno stage encouraged a literal row of brass players - trumpet, saxophone, and trombone - to join in. And don't forget the violinist and cellist. Their music flirts with a tonal center and instruments at times go off in their own seemingly improvisational path, although the path is actually planned and paved. A friend told me that they reminded him of the Minutemen, probably due to their obvious affection for jazz and their talent as musicians. They don't have either the jittery, angular progressions that mark The Minutemen or the obvious Gang of Four influence. Apparently, their album is going to come out on Dischord.

Ian MacKaye's strong personality comes through in the performances of The Evens, which is a minimalistic, drums and guitar duo. The Evens are at their most captivating when Amy Farina's soprano harmonizes with MacKaye's vocals on choruses. The PA, unfortunately, contributed an unwanted, persistent hiss to their music. MacKaye bantered easily with the crowd. For example, he asked people for feedback, they shouted, and he responded with a laugh: "I just wanted to make you feel a part of the show. I'm not actually going to do any of the things you are telling me to do." People sang along. No question hangs; The Evens engaged the crowd. The sun set and The Evens kept playing thanks to a couple of homey floor lamps with cream shades standing on stage. They created a sense of intimacy on an outdoor stage before a varied crowd of hundreds.

I don't want to look at the final Ft. Reno show of the year as a symbolic book end to the summer. I still need to go inter tubing or hiking. Of course, I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago and my current goal is just to walk down the street without limping.