Tuesdays are normally for trivia. The gang meets up at the
local pub to astound and amaze. I bailed out on this evening, opting instead for a show in Buckhead. I roll out of the house around 7:45. Show starts at 8:00, and I don't expect any traffic. I cut through surface streets, find free parking just off of Paces Ferry and walk up to the doors.
I'm through the doors by 8:05 There is not even the rumor of a line for a couple of acts that, while well reviewed within indie circles, are hardly major draws. I'm meeting four people, who were all with me at the last We Are Scientists show in Atlanta, when they opened for the Arctic Monkeys at The Tabernacle. While I'm most definitely here to see WAS again, a couple of my friends have been talking up Spinto for the last couple of weeks, suggesting that they're the real talent on the bill.
As it turns out, Spinto are already on stage and through half a number by the time I walk down into the concert hall. My first thought on seeing The Spinto Band is, "What this band needs is another member." Ha. There are six players on stage. Drums, bass, two guitars and two – count 'em!-- keyboards. On the third song, keyboard player two morphs into guitarist three. Meanwhile, the bassist and guitarist one exchange singing duties. The latter vocalist has a syrup-tinted voice made for this sort of guitar pop. He's hyped up like nobody's business tonight, bobbing his head around the stage maniacally, with a smile that looks painful to hold that long. He's either doing everything he can to make up for the sparse crowd with pure adrenaline, or he's on crank. I think it's the former, but can't be sure.
Listening further, it's obvious that the bassist is a student of David
Byrne, big time. His vocals pull straight out of the modernized Talking Heads
bands (read: Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade). He's much less active on stage. Standing
stage-right, head down, yelping out, "Hey Mandy," he could pass physically
for a young Ric Ocasek, all stringy black mop top and protruding elbows.
Spinto blast through five or six songs. All are good. A couple are great:
pop precision wrapped around candy-coated hooks that I'm still humming three
days later. They wrap up, and it's pointed out that they only played 15 minutes.
Well, 16 minutes and some odd seconds.. I am suitably impressed with Spinto.
They have some damned catchy tunes, and I begin to think about acquiring their
disc. With the break in the action, we have to confab while WAS set up. As
the son of one of my friends bounces in place, I wonder if I ever had that
much energy and excitement at any point in my life. I doubt it, but it's a
kick to behold. The next generation will not be without audiophiles, praises
be, and it looks like there will be at least one with taste. Proper respect
to his dad for taking him out to the rock show on a school night.
We Are Scientists are a three piece, so I can not for the life of me figure out how it takes 40 minutes to set them up. Unplug the openers, move their gear, plug in the three instruments. How hard is that? Why do I have to endure 10 minutes of individual drum sound check? Yes, the tom tom is miked. Yes, the snare is miked. Yes, you have the kick WAY too high in the mix. Eventually the soundboard acquires some modicum of sanity, and we move on to the second act.
In the meantime, the crowd has quadrupled. When Spinto took the stage there were maybe three audience members for each band member (18, 6.) We're probably near 100 people for WAS. Maybe more. It's hard to say as the venue is far bigger than the crowd. Even at its most packed the Roxy isn't 1/3 full tonight.
I'm a big fan of We Are Scientists. They play angular, geeky dance rock,
and they're witty and entertaining on stage. The drummer drums, but listen,
the sound guy still has too much kick in mix. The kick should not overpower
the bass, Mr. Soundboard Engineer. Still, WAS put on a hell of a show. They're
tight on all of the songs off their debut album. The two or three new tunes
meander a bit, but they're promising. WAS play for about an hour, going through
their entire CD and the aforementioned new songs. I'm impressed by their showmanship
and dedication. It would have been easy to phone the night in. Instead, they
ramp up their own adrenaline and pull the small crowd along for the ride. The
guitarist, who is the lead singer, is all over the stage. The bassist, apparently
breaking in his brand new wireless, jumps down and meanders through the crowd
for a song. At one point between songs, my friend's son, being 14, is heard
to yell "Yay!" Not "Hell yeah!" Not "Wooo!" "Yay!" The band picks it up. "Yay!" is
the exclamation of the night.
WAS wrap and my four companions call it a night. One group trek back to
Alpharetta, while the other guy needs to get his kid home before too late.
Understandable, all. I prop against a wall near the sound board and wait for
Art Brut have one of the year's most highly reviewed albums. They're lauded as the return of British art punk near and far. I have been meaning to pick up the disc, but haven't gotten around to it, so this is my first listen. After another long set change, they wander out. Their first tune is probably called We are Art Brut or something like. It involves the lead singer saying "We are Art Brut" a lot. The backing band makes an garbled wash of feedback, drums and assorted noise. The second song is their signature tune, called I think, Bang! Bang! Rock and Roll! I don't make it through the second chorus, because I'm engulfed by the feeling of been-there, done-that. I suppose every generation need their abrasive art punk, but I'm done with it personally. In fact, I'm thinking, "Bang! Bang! Melody!" and "Bang! Bang! Give me a call!" Until then, I'll get home before the wife returns from trivia.