Ever since reading Lawton's rave review of Hello, the debut album by The Mattoid, i had wanted to check this artist out. Additionally, Sparklehonkey was fascinated by the idea of a punk clown band (Palookaville), so the Minions headed out to The Star Bar for this show.
The first act went on immediately after we arrived. This was one guy in greaser attire (cowboy boots, tight jeans, nice shirt, vest, bolo tie, pomaded hair) with a guitar, an amp emblazoned with his logo, and an odd assortment of pedals. He called himself The Ghostwriter, and he put on a very interesting half hour set.
First of all, he's a pretty good guitarist playing old school rhythm and blues. No i don't mean like Reuben Stoddard; rather, i refer here to the type of guitarwork you hear on old Sam and Dave records. And he did it well. Also, the pedals... well, they weren't effects pedals for his guitar. Instead he had a kick drum pedal wired up so that it smacked directly into a small microphone. This made a surprisingly decent kick drum sound, and he was able to play this while standing up with his guitar and with a harmonica on a wire hanger around his neck. It's a one-man band! You don't see that too often anymore. Well, not without a laptop.
Anyway, The Ghostwriter's music was catchy and fun. I enjoyed his half hour set. Apparently he is based in Austin, so check him out if you can.
We had a short wait while The Mattoid set up. The Mattoid is a Norwegian artist, and i think The Mattoid is also the name of his band, which for this performance consisted of a drummer and a bassist. The drummer played a small kit -- one snare, one tom and a cymbal -- and he played standing up. Well, actually, he flailing around like he was having an epileptic fit, but the point is, he wasn't sitting down like most drummers. The Mattoid is a stocky guy with deep eyes, a goatee, and on this night he was wearing a tuque. He plays guitar and sings.
The band's overall sound was of slightly quirky, energetic rock. As i said, the drummer flailed around like an epileptic, but The Mattoid himself also moved around a lot, even playing in the crowd, and he moved in a generally odd way. I can't really describe it, but his motions were almost exaggerated for effect.
Anyway, the band played great music, and The Mattoid himself was rather amiable and chatted with the crowd. He has real stage presence, and it was a joy to see him on stage being entertaining. They played a few tunes off of his latest EP, and they did an excellent, if bizarre, rock version of Dancing Queen that was really fun.
Overall, i would say that The Mattoid was/were very good in concert. The man is a natural performer, and he isn't just there to play music, but rather to entertain you. And indeed, i was entertained.
At this point we had been at The Star Bar for about an hour and half and had seen two worthwhile acts. But the evening was about to take a turn for the worse as King Flude took the stage. This band is one of the seemingly innumerable Motorhead ripoff acts which infest this city's metal scene like a bad rash. These people were generally rude to the crowd, kind of obnoxious, and they played unnoteworthy music. Their set seemed to go on forever, and, indeed, many of the audience headed for home during their set. This band was generic in a bad way, and for a while we Minions thought about leaving.
But we toughed it out to see the next band, The Rock City Dropouts. This was a five piece band of tattooed rockers. The lead guitarist was a muscular guy obviously going for that Henry Rollins look, the bassist was a large (6'5" at least) energetic man who played like Michael Anthony (of Van Halen), and the singer... well, he looked like he had just come down from the mountain for this performance. He had long hair, a full beard, and a trucker hat.
However, their music was really fun. The Rock City Dropouts played classic heavy metal in the Guns N Roses tradition, and they did it well. All of them seemed to be very competent musicians, even the mountain man, who had a surprisingly good voice. What made the band even better is that they bounced around on stage and created a really festive atmosphere. After the massive downer that was King Flude, The Rock City Dropouts succeeding in re-energizing the sleepy crowd. Overall, they were fun, and appear to be one of the better local metal acts.
By the time The Rock City Dropouts left the stage, it was 1:30. They hurriedly geared out, allowing Palookaville to set up remarkably fast. Now, Palookaville is the latest project from Star Bar owner and local scenester Jim Stacy. For some reason he can only perform in costume, so this band performs in clown makeup, much like his pervious band, Greasepaint.
The main difference between Palookaville and Greasepaint is that there is a different guitarist. Otherwise, it's Jim Stacy on stage thrashing around.... Quite honestly, none of us were that impressed, and, given the late hour, we headed out after a few songs. Palookaville weren't bad, they just weren’t good enough to keep me up past 2 A.M.
Overall, this was a mediocre night. We saw three interesting bands, one mediocre one, and one utterly generically crappy band. Not the best evening, and man did it go late....