I go see a lot of concerts, and lately i have totally burnt out on the lack of professionalism in our local music scene. Take this show for example: i was there for over three hours, and less than half of the time i spent at the club actually involved live music. Then again, i guess the problem is that musicians perform in BARS which are far more interested in making people stand around and pay money for alcohol than they are in actually providing a hospitable music-enjoying experience. And don't get me started on the time frame this stuff operates in -- it is downright discriminatory to those of us with "day jobs".
Nonetheless, sometimes i have to drag myself out into this morass of drunkenness and standing around waiting, and Tenth to the Moon's long-awaited album release show is motivation enough. As an added bonus, Thursday nights at The Star Bar feature no cover charge, so a decent crowd built up over the three hours i was there, lured by the tease of live music and the promise of cheap liquor. I actually felt they had a really good crowd.
Now, as with most shows, there is an opening act to endure, and tonight's opener was a local act called Missile Command. They set up a TV on stage right, with an Atari 2600 emulator running on it, allowing people to play Asteroids and Pong. And let me tell you, watching drunk people try to play pong with a joystick is rather amusing… Sadly, this was the most interesting thing about the band.
Current score: Pong Computer: 5, Drunk Star Bar Patron: 1.
Missile Command are a 4-piece act, and include in their number none other than Justin Hughes, formerly of The Rock*a*Teens, but none of the other three members looked familiar. All of the band wore helmets. Hughes played guitar and also manned a sampler that occasionally spat out a bit of dialog. The other three members rotated between guitar, bass, and drums. At times, they even had two drummers, playing slightly different bits. That was interesting, if somewhat proggish. They rest of their songs featured jerky rhythms, thrashing guitars, and screamed vocals. It is as if Missile Command are the unholy fusion of The Purkinje Shift, King Crimson, and The Dead Kennedys. In funny hats, don't forget the funny hats!
Missile Command wisely wear helmets to protect themselves
when the crowd hurls things at them.
Another problem was that between each song, as the three non-Rock*a*Teen members shifted, it inexplicably took about 5 minutes to get everyone situated enough for the new song. Granted, they were kind of crowded on stage, what with 2 drum kits set up facing each other taking the entire middle third of the stage, but still! So Missile Command were not just musically uninteresting, they were also annoyingly inefficient. I bet not one of them is a Mennonite…. And to add insult to injury, Missile Command lingered on stage for about 45 minutes. That seemed like an eternity as i was stuck sitting there watching them try to get organized enough to attempt their next song.
But they were over, eventually. And then we waited, and waited. It even took Missile Command a long time to gear out -- it was almost 50 minutes between the end of Missile Command and the start of Tenth to the Moon. I guess you get what you pay for, and this was a free night after all…
Anyway, Tenth to the Moon did, eventually, play. Tonight they were a 5-piece, the permanent band members (Mitch Foy on voice and Doug Hughes on keys) being joined by a brand new guitarist i had never seen before, and the rhythm section on loan from Envie which they have had the past few times i have seen them.
Tenth to the Moon, under anime.
The kicked off their set with a few minutes of just noise -- the guitar feeding back, Foy bellowing, and the keys droning loudly while the rhythm hammered away at it. And then they tore into a fun set of the songs off of their self-titled debut album. It was a great start, and they did not let up. Foy thrashed around on stage, at times beating on a gas tank taken out of some car, and the other band members simply played loud, fast, and hard.
Tenth to the moon in action.
I think the mix was really good for Tenth to the Moon. The sound was excellent, and Hughes' keyboards were clearly heard in their central place in each song. It's not often that actually happens in a live setting, so it was a welcome change.
Now that i know a few of their song titles, i can tell you that they played a rollicking version of House On Stilts, and had a female vocalist join Foy in screaming Nails and Females. They ended their set with a long section of noise and distortion as Foy beat the gas tank, rolled around on the floor, splitting the back of his shorts (never seen his ass before at any of the gigs, so that was new), and then carried the gas tank out onto Moreland Avenue, still beating it…
It's kind of creepy when Foy stares right into the camera like this...
What a way to end a night. What i love about Tenth to the Moon is that they do these wacky things, like beating on gas tanks in the middle of the street while half-naked, but do it all in the framework of a rhythm and keyboard driven tune that is, when you get down to it, kind of catchy. I know that they are not for everybody, but i do enjoy them, and this was a fine set.
Foy (only half naked at this point) and the gas tank.
So by the time i left The Star Bar, i was satisfied at having had an evening that, while mostly long and tedious, at least had the decency to end well.