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  The Earl  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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This is a very hard review to write.

"Why," you ask. Well, in order to answer that i have to discuss (and i'll try and keep it short) some of the soul-searching i have been doing of late. All related, ultimately, to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

I spend too much time reading messages posted on various Internet listservs. Probably way too much time, but i guess that we all need to have hobbies. Anyway, the point is that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are being hailed as "the saviours of shoegazer music" and "the bext band since Ride broke up". They also just got signed to a Major Label (Virgin) and seem destined to become overproduced and overplayed radio fodder in a year or so.

That's all good and well. But you know how we die-hard music geeks are: once something gets overplayed we start saying things like "Oh, only U2's pre-War albums interest me." Or, "R.E.M. lost their 'edge' when they signed to Warner." I can list dozens of examples of common sayings i hear in reference to bands who were once indie / underground and then busted out into the mainstream. The term is "selling out" and it seems to imply that making money is bad for the soul.

It might be -- i haven't figured that one out yet. But what i have figured out is that a portion of this "backlash" is caused by Marketing. Yes, that's right -- the same stuff that lets all the 14 year olds in Iowa know what's cool pisses off the true music geek. Personally, my thoughts go something like this: "Dammit, i spend so much time in smokey dives in the middle of the night and pouring through stacks in tiny cramped record stores run by mind-numbingly rude people to know this type of stuff, and then someone just up and TELLS everyone else. Screw them -- work for the information or get away!"

And another problem is that marketing just doesn't tell the 14 year olds in Iowa, it also tells me what's cool. Well screw you, ya Marketingoids, i exert effort to discover what's cool, and i RESENT you trying to tell me.

And that's a big part of the backlash, at least for me: Resentment. I resent being told what to think. I resent being told what to buy. And so i start hating certain things because i am told to like them. Kind of funny when you think about it.

So people all over the Internet are telling me to like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Okay. These same people (the more-serious-than-me music geek buzz factor) told me to like The Dismemberment Plan. And i do. They told me to like Sonic Youth. I already did.

Now they tell me to like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, with an addendum that soon many more people will be telling me to like them. And, well, my intial response is that i don't like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. There, i said it.

So the question that i have had to ask myself is: is my reaction based on the afore-mentioned resentment backlash? If so, why doesn't it kick in and keep me away from The Dismemberment Plan?

The answer here lies in what i have termed "the excitement to buzz ratio". You see, there is at least some buzz for every band. And there is some excitement caused by seeing any band live. There is some ratio wherein excitement at the music exceeds buzz, and that ratio makes me like the band. (Dammit, i hate it when my life comes down to calculus!) So a band with a lotta buzz (like Black Rebel Motorcyle Club) really has to knock my socks off in concert.

And they didn't. Oh, they weren't bad. In fact, i would say that they are a talented band with some potential and some interesting songs. They are not the saviors of any type of music.

Let me describe them musically for a moment (heck, it is the ostensible reason for this review, so why not!)

They are a three piece. Each member has big messy hair and tight black clothes, making them look like three refugees from Automatic-era Jesus And Mary Chain. They have really nice looking hollowbody guitars/basses (they are on a Major after all) and lots and lots of HUGE amps (amps that looked out of place on the little stage at The Earl).

Sonically they have powerful rhythm. I mean powerful. That drummer played the heck out of his kit, and i think i have to say that he is one of the most talented drummers i have seen in a while. The bass played high-pitched melodies a la Joy Division. The guitar was GODAWFUL LOUD and varied between power chords and intense overdrive. Both the guitarist and the bassist sing, although with the volumes they were performing at i could not sense a difference between the two voices.

Musically their songs remind me, for the most part, of The Rolling Stones. Songs heavy on the bass and drums with lyrics SCREAMED about love and girls. Not that this is bad -- i adore The Stones. Some people may want more intellectual content in their music, but i don't think this is a slam against anyone.

Of the performance, i think that garage rock fans would have had a blast. And there were two or three songs where the chorus and the phase shifter got put on the guitar and an honest shoegazer moment was had. So not a bad show. Not a "genius" performance, but not bad.

I enjoyed the show. I did not enjoy it as much as the hype that i had heard led me to believe that i would, so i am left disappointed. I wanted BRMC to knock my socks off. I wanted to leave the show with one of their tunes burrowed so deeply into my brain that i not even Blur's Song 2 could get it out.

But that didn't happen. My ratio is off, so i am unimpressed.

Now for the ironic part: i think that, if i had never heard of this band and had instead just showed up at The Earl to see Myssouri play (which technically they did, sometime after 1 AM, when i was safely at home in bed thinking this stuff through) and had found BRMC opening, i would be telling my friends how cool they were. I would be talking to fellow Jesus & Mary Chain fans about them. I would let my garage rocker friends know. I would, in short, be creating the buzz. Now that's irony!

So what is my final recommendation to you? Well, if you like Ride, The Rolling Stones, garage rock, or The Jesus And Mary Chain you might want to check them out. They are good at that type of stuff.

Then again, you could just wait until MTV starts cramming BRMC down your throat! Because, i think, they are a tight enough band, and an interesting enough band, that their music will appeal to the 14 year olds in Iowa as soon as those 14 year olds are made aware of how cool it is.

And in the end, i will get to tell my younger cousins, "Yeah, well, i saw them back before their hits, in a tiny smokey dive with a hundred other people in the middle of the night, so i don't wanna go see them at The Stadium."

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