If I hadn't read PostLibyan's review
of a show at the Contemporary, I think the lack of a proper
venue would have surprised me when we arrived at the art gallery.
But I already knew that the Contemporary's musical space is
really an outdoor courtyard with a primitive sound system. Furthermore,
their ongoing local music concert series seems to be loosely
run affair where bands hang out before they play, sitting among
the crowd, drinking beer and being friendly.
So it didn't seem odd to see four men wander up to the front
of the courtyard, pick up intruments and being to play. They
didn't look like musicians to me; rather they looked graphic
designers or high school teachers or members of some other settled
profession. Still I was pleased when this band, called The Dot
Commies, played a type of garage rock sounded like an 80s new
wave band out of Texas, sort of like the bastard child of Bobby
Fuller and Devo.
To top it off, the between song banter was actually humorous,
consisting primarily of a running joke that this was actually
a performance of Flickerstick, one of the contestants on VH-1's
"sold my sold to rocknroll" reality show, Bands On The
Run. I actually might not have known this on a normal
day; however, as it turned out, Flickerstick were indeed playing
a local venue that night, so they were mention in a newspaper
article I had read that morning. Truly this was a bar band,
in the very best sense - I can easily see myself standing at
The Star Bar, half drunk on PBR, dancing like a fool to their
With this type of fun garage rock in the opening act, it would
be reasonable for the next band to be vaguely rock-ish in their
orientation. One would guess wrong. I was utterly shocked and
amazing when Greta Lee turned out to be a country singer-songwriter.
Unlike other Minions, I like some sorts of country music - dark
and literate tales that feel authentic to me and somehow resonate
in my own life. Unfortunately, that's not the type of country
music Greta Lee plays - it's shiny and happy. For instance,
although her music addresses some of the typical topics of country
songs, her hometown is sunny and not dying and although her
man may be bad, she loves him anyway.
Technically, she and her band seemed quite proficient. Greta
Lee herself reminded me of Mary Chapin Carpenter, both in her
vocal abilities as well as in her phrasing. And the music went
down smoothly, without any real distractions. I can honestly
say it's not my type of music, but it's something that I could
see many fans of modern country music enjoying.
Since the concert took place, I've run across a couple of articles
about The Eskimos, most of which describe them as a country-influenced
roots rock band out of Athens. Admittedly, I haven't heard their
newly released album; however based on their live sound, I'm
not sure those afore-mentioned article-writers have ever even
heard this band. O.K., at some points, I might be the influence
of The Band influence in their sound (truthfully, one of The
Eskimos' songs sounded like a note for note re-write of The
Weight). In general they have a vague 70s-ish southern stoned
rock thing going. But more than anything, on this specific Friday
night, they sounded like the direct linear descendents of the
ballad-crooning version of Creed.
Frustrated by the Eskimos' three guitar lineup that refused
to rock, I ended up wandering inside The Contemporary Art Gallery,
where I was distracted by the art (and one short anime called
Building a Better Mousetrap featuring The Merchant of
Death 2000). Outside of The Dot Commies, it was the most satisfying
aspect of the experience, which perhaps demonstrates the wisdom
of mixing art and music in the same evening.