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  5-8 w/ The Ludovico Technique and Dodd Ferrelle and the Tinfoil Stars  
  10 High  
  Viriginia-Highlands, Atlanta, GA  
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Let me just say that, going into this show, i was slightly sick. Well, not ill really, but fighting both a cold and the Holiday Blues. Although it was good to get out of the house in a non-family social situation, i wasn't really in the mood for the pretension and posing of Va-High. So maybe that coloured my view of this show.

Anyway, the first act was Dodd Ferrelle and the Tinfoil Stars. We had last seen this Athens-based roots rock act over a year ago, and both Tracers and i were curious to see how they had developed. The last time we saw them, Tracers pointed out that she thought Mr. Ferrelle sounded kind of like John Doe. The comparison that sprung to my mind is late-era (circa Chance) Rave-ups.

You probably don't remember The Rave-ups. They were one of the large number of "roots rock" bands that toured our nation in the late 80's. Other acts i would lump in with them include Scruffy The Cat, The Del-Fuegos, and The Bodeans. Roots rock was a style that combined blues with a slight "country" element. It was the precursor to both the Americana scene and the scene. I was really into this stuff back in 1990.

Dodd Ferrelle and the Tinfoil Stars play classic roots rock. There is not enough twang there to really be considered country, and the guitar riffs are more classic rock than anything else. However, the rhythm section is really strong: it shows the blues influence. The bassist and the drummer both played seemingly straightforward parts, but they provided a strong underpinning to Ferrelle's songs.

Ferrelle himself is the real star of the band, and i mean aside from the fact that his name is in the band's title. Ferrelle's voice is rich and slightly gravelly. Tracers' comparison to a young John Doe (before all the cigarettes hardened his voice) is a good comparison, but to bring us back to The Rave-ups, his ability to sustain notes in the upper register reminds me of lead Rave-up Jimmy Podrasky. Both of them are able to hit high notes without seeming to descend into falsetto. This is a good thing.

My insistance on comparing this band to The Rave-ups might be due to my adoration for that band. I haven't listened to Town + Country in years, but i dragged it out to listen to while writing this review. Or my instance might be due to a need to classify The Tinfoil Stars. Either way, i am going to stand by my comparison. And being compared to The Rave-ups is a good thing, really.

If i had heard Dodd Ferrelle and the Tinfoil Stars 12 years ago, i would have loved them. However, since then i have moved on. Still, it's good to hear the sounds from another era. And even though they do nothing really new, The Tinfoil Stars do it solidly and with confidence. For all you and Americana fans out there: check these people out. I think you'll like them.

Their performance tonight was very solid, and seeing it made me glad i had dragged myself out. The next band, however, was to make me rethink that poistion.

Billed as "Expenisve Noise", the band opened with a song obviously titled just that. Then they went on about how they had finally decided to keep their original name of The Ludovico Technique. Good for them.

The Ludovico Technique are a seemingly older band. That is, all of the members appeared to be in their late 20's. Unusual for a band just starting out. However, they way they talked led me to believe that they are all refugees from other bands. And their drummer appeared to be none other than ex-Changeling Chandler Rentz. Personally, i adore his drumming. He plays tom-heavy intricate rhythms, and having the chance to see him perform was an added bonus.

However, the band refused to let him cut loose. Their sound is a sort of fusion of Radiohead and Weezer: an obvious nod towards the Brit-pop sound of the mid-90's with even more power chords thrown in.

I'll admit that at first i was intrigued. Then they tried to sing a "political song", i don't even remember what it was supposed to be about. However, on this tune the weakness of the vocals was emphasized and the strength of the music buried. Some people just don't need to write deep, meaningful things. Some people should just stick to ignorable fluff. I felt this way while sitting through this song.

In fact, after that the band just never really jelled again for me. Their arrangements seemed derivative and "radio-friendly:, and i found myself bored and wishing for the warmth of bed and cats.

One interesting note: the second to last song they did was introduced as "For Joe". Joe of course meaning the recently deceased punk icon Joe Strommer. With this intro, the band proceeded to attempt to cover Straight To Hell, one of my all-time favorite tunes. The singer screwed up the lyrics (starting with verse 2, and forgetting verse 3 midway through), but the music here was the most interesting they did. The guitars were played through tons of echo and phase, chiming throughout the club in a lovely manner. Rentz's drumming style is also well-suited to the deep, sparse rhythm of this tune, and on the whole it worked for me. It was a nice effort, but next time try and get the lyrics together.....

In general i was not overly impressed with this act. I found them boring, honestly. Still, they did manage to drag indie scenesters into Va-High, so that's something. In all fairness, they were suffering from technical difficulties with their keyboard, so perhaps the added complexity of a keyboard melody would have aided their songs. I don't know though, and will have to reserve judgement.

Finally, 5-8 started to play. Have i mentioned lately how amazing this band is live? 5-8 are a pop-punk power trio, and they do it very well. Again, they are not an innovative band, but they are amazingly competent. All three members really know their stuff, and singer Mike Manitone shines as a ball of pent up fury flailing away, breakdancing, and screaming.

Tonight the band did a sort of "best of" set, hitting crowd-pleasing favorites off of all their albums. It was a fun, solid set, and like all 5-8 shows, was thoroughly enjoyable.

However, by that point we were tired, and so we headed home before they started their encore. Still, i would recommend a 5-8 show to anyone who wants to see a talented band play energetic, fun music.

On the whole, this was a decent night. Not remarkble, but not bad either.

Related Links:

Our introduction to Dodd Ferrelle and the Tinfoil Stars.
Chandler rentz drumming with The Changelings.
Another 5-8 show.


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