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Raincage @ The Lost Sock4/25/98
The Lost Sock in Richmond, VA is a one of a kind place. It combines the necessity of a laundromat with the sanity of the people using it. At first glance it looks like an ordinary laundromat with the exception of the large mural painted on the side of the building showing two large socks holding up mugs of beer. The main level of the building is an ordinary laundromat, but there is a narrow staircase in the front leading to a bar & deli. This is where you can relax while your clothes are tumbling, have a beer, and listen to live music...at least on Saturday nights that is.
This Saturday night featured the alternative rock band Raincage. It must have been a challenge for this five- piece band to set up all their gear in the pseudo-stage area that was normally a cubby area for throwing darts. (The owner of the place must figure that the bands are going to be good since they are playing with two dart boards behind them!) Raincage managed to transform the area and give it more of a club feel by reducing much of the overhead lighting and placing several candles on the various amps to set the mood. I thought I could smell incense burning but it must have been someone's dryer sheets.
As the club quickly turned into standing room only, the band members took the stage one by one while opening with a cover of Bob Marley's Redemption Song. The haunting vocals of frontman David Alexander immediately captured the crowd's attention. Going straight into several original songs including Rise (the title cut from the upcoming CD), In Fields of Starlight, 16 Days In Babylon, which was only Alexander's vocals and drummer Matt Binsley on bongos, and the ever popular Simple You, Raincage's original sound came shining through. In addition to Alexander and Binsley, Brandon Harris (guitars), Jeff Giles (bass), and Mike Martin (keyboards) created a beautiful, sometimes dark, neo-psychedelic musical feast. Even during the impressive covers to U2's God part 2 and the Smithereens' Blood & Roses, where Harris played a blistering guitar solo, their unique style was evident.
This is a band to watch. For a band to play this tight and sound this good in the unusual setting of a laundromat shows some real potential. Check them out as soon as you can...even if it means doing your laundry on a Saturday night!
Brownie Mary @ Alley Katz --JG
The perfect place to be on Saturday night March 14 was Alley Katz in Richmond, Va. Of course I didn't know this until I had been I.D.'d and paid a $7 cover charge. To my surprise, the ever popular Everything was playing, along with the Pittsburgh band Brownie Mary. I may have come to see Everything, but I left the show still jamming with Brownie Mary in my head.
I really enjoyed them. This was my first experience with Brownie Mary, yet I could feel an immediate electricity in the air when they hit the stage. The band consists of your basic guitar, bass, and drums with the lead vocals being female. The stage presence was great. The singer had her own plush carpet to jump around on, (which she does barefoot) while communicating to the crowd with her eyes. The vocals are a deeper than the usual female pop vocalist, rather sultry in fact, and the music is very tight pop with a slightly hard edge at times. The songs differentiate each other well with rhythms you can "bob" your head with and some more subtle, interesting dynamics as well. Most memorable chorus? "oooh yeah-ee .sha-la-la" (from the song "Something We Both Know") Hey, it's simple but it works.
Brownie Mary is on the Blackbird/Electra label and is currently on tour promoting their album "Naked". I think it's definitely worth a listen, and you can get it at their live shows or from CD Now. Check your local CD stores as well. Most importantly, check your local club scene to see if they're playing. When BM hits MTV you'll be glad you saw them first!
The Ernies - They call it jive! When you listen to the CD Dropping Science or see the Ernies in concert (I saw them recently at the Rhodeside Grill and at the Bayou) you'll hear a group of tight musicians. Clearly their influence comes from bands like 311. However they didn't just jump on the bandwagon to try to rip off 311. The Ernies have blended ska, hip-hop, reggae, and rock to find a sound that is hard to give it a clear label. The main difference is the horn section. I haven't heard a horn section like this since the angry days of Chicago (first two albums) or the Tower of Power. The horns jump from the low down dirty sax sounds to the heart attack sting of the trombone. Backed up by a hard driving rhythm it won't be long until the Ernies are a household name. At the Bayou, which was a rare all-ages show, The Ernies opened for Live Alien Broadcast and SEV. Normally opening acts play with a large void between them and the audience. Everyone is at the bar or talking to friends. Not true at this show. The Ernies started at a feverish pace and never let up. The floor in front of the stage filled with people that danced through the whole show. The people talking in the back of the room were swaying to the reggae beat. The room took on a party atmosphere. Grab a copy of Dropping Science to create the atmosphere for your next party....The songs encourage dancing, dancing encourages a good time and I encourage you to check it out.... you'll call it jive!
Pitch Magazine hosted a CD release party for The Pods on March 13 at the Rhodeside Grill in Arlington. Opening the show were two local bands Luka Brazzi and Kismet. I am sorry to say that I missed Luka Brazzi's set but I did catch Kismet. They were a high energy, female fronted band with a heavy bass line. Actually it is an all female band with the exception of the lead guitarist. The vocalist, Tina, can really scream out a song. It was an impressive set!
The Pods had a great idea their CD release party...they played through the songs on their CD, in order, and then played a few of their other tunes. This three-piece band first attracted my attention when they opened for Modern Yesterday at the Bayou several months ago. John Williams has a unique style of playing the bass guitar. He strums, plucks and slaps the strings unlike anything I have ever seen, adding a richer sound to the music. When I asked him about his style he laughed and said, "It's from growing up in the woods!" However, Williams and his bandmates Eric Scorce- drums,vocals; and D.J. Paquin-vocals,guitars all studied music in college. Watching Paquin play you can see that there is a reason for every note that he plays and yet he leaves room for an artistic flair. He didn't jump around much on stage this night, but still managed to go through three guitars. From where I was standing I couldn't see Scorce, but I did enjoy the vocals he added to the band's sound. Williams has the greatest portion of the stage, and he needs it. Watching him I see the talent of The Who's John Entwhistle with the stage presence of Pete Townsend. He seems to have so much energy that he can't get the notes out fast enough so he makes up for it by dancing, moving across the stage on his knees and jumping on the bass drum! I recommend that you go see The Pods for yourself and check out their new CD "Left Of Fair." It is a fine debut for these musicians.
I went to the Metro Cafe on St. Patrick's Day to see Foam; a new band, and newly signed band (Epic), out of Hagerstown, MD. Their debut CD Big Windshield, Little Mirror, is a blend of acoustic and electric guitars with vocals full of passion. In concert they are a high energy, high decibel act that doesn't back down. For such a new band I was surprised to see the way singer/guitarist Jason Teach (a.k.a. Butterfly) really work the crowd. Opening for them was another new band, 555. They already have a large fan base because the club was packed with people there to see them. Not bad for an opening act, eh? When they took the stage the vocalist/guitarist growled out a military march laced with power chords. When he started using a silver vibrator on his guitar (it was ingenious), I thought we were in for some rough, raw rock. It did get heavy, but each song seemed to change direction. We heard a little bit of Allman Bros, Guns & Roses, country and Motown. Catch a show soon, you will have fun! Let them know which of their styles you like best. I vote for the rough and raw.
Baltic Avenue @ Ottobar 3/11/98
Baltic Avenue, Marc Browne (vocals/guitars) Brian Lichty (lead guitar), Cory Deere (bass) and Shawn McKelvie (drums) have been around since the summer of '95. These seasoned veterans showed that they could deliver a great show even under slightly adverse conditions. We arrived early enough to hear the sound check. At the end of the check, the sound was tight. Unfortunately, just before their set began, the next band to play arrived and needed to move some of Baltic Ave's equipment. But Browne captured the audience's attention as he started the first song acapella. Despite having the next band's drummer setting up his kit two feet in front of Lichty, Baltic Avenue was determined to give their fans the best they had. The forty minute set was a mix of tight, melodic songs and loose jams including the popular "Wedding Gift." Baltic Avenue is currently signed with the infamous Fowl Record label. Check out their website at www.baltic-ave.com for information on how and where to pick up a CD for yourself and for the latest show dates. See you there! --kk
The Kingdom of Leisure @ Lewie's 2/19/98
Have you noticed that most of the songs on the radio sound the same. The record companies tend to copy any thing that is popular. The same goes for a lot of concerts. I have been to many shows where volume replaces talent and the same guitar solo is played for each song. Then there is a Kingdom of Leisure concert. Rich Walkling (guitars) and Ty Hardaway (drums) leave you without a doubt of their talent. Without a bass guitar to pound the beat into your chest, Walking leads the audience down a leisurely stroll along a musical trail. He plays only acoustic instruments chosen for their warm rich tones. If you close your eyes you can hear his guitars speak to you in the voice of a great story teller around a campfire. The drums providing the pops and crackling of the fire. Not the steady beat of a pop concert, but the sharp biting sounds that contrast Walking guitar. The use of guitar effects accenting the sound and keeps the whole concert fresh with anticipation of what you are going to hear next.
*Find out more about tKoL in this March '98 Roadhouse feature!
Earth To Andy @ The Bayou Jan. 17, 1998
Earth To Andy was the surprise of the evening. They were second band to play in a three band line-up with Strawman and Modern Yesterday. I had never heard them play before. Nor had I read any other review. As they started into Better Days, I thought this was going to be another straight ahead roll and roll quartet. After about four songs I felt that I had seen what this band had to offer; good music, tight performance, and the audiences' attention. I tend to look around the room during the supporting bands' shows to see what percentage of the crowd came to see the opening acts or if they are there to kill some time before the headline band starts. Earth to Andy had the crowd's attention. Sure they were playing to a hometown crowd, but those are the crowds that sometimes tend to talk the most during the show. I guess what shocked me the most was the music. It was straight ahead roll and roll with depth. Earth to Andy showed me that they are more that just the average three power cord band. Through their 75 minute set they pulled out all the stops and delivered a rock show filled with blues, punk, and metal. Try to catch a show soon. I understand they are going to be signing with a label. I'm sure that you will want to be able to say, "I saw them when ..." --BB
Underfoot @ Daytona's Oct. 28, 1997
Underfoot takes the stage amidst the swirl of incense. Bass, Drums, and Acoustic Guitar in hand, the band start into a bluegrass number. Within a minute or two the band unleashes the power of "Also Called Nothing" on the audience.
As you stand in amazement watching the band you begin to wonder if the band is playing along with a tape. How can the shear depth of the sound be coming from these three musicians? As the show continues you can see that you are watching three men who have mastered their craft. Dana and Noel lay down a funk that gets everyone dancing then switch to the rhythm of a troubadour's ballot. Then, with a moments notice, deliver the raw energy of a thunder storm.
Brian's guitar could best be compared to a chameleon. The use of effect pedals enhances his skill without distracting from it. Throughout the show the sound takes on different shapes, wrapping itself around the rhythm section, accenting Brian's vocals. The lyrics to Underfoot's songs are about your life, your world, and your universe. In this day of meaningless or dark-without-hope songs, Underfoot brings new hope to today's music. --kk/bb
*Find out more about underfoot in this Roadhouse feature!
Modern Yesterday @ The Bayou Sept. '97
One of the most popular areas for night life in DC is historic Georgetown, home of Georgetown University. The streets are crammed with pedestrians visiting the shops, restaurants, cafes and clubs well into the wee hours of the morning. One of the most popular places to hear live music in Georgetown is the Bayou. You can almost always find local bands playing at there. The Bayou is a medium size club, about 500 capacity, with a dance floor and a wrap-around balcony with tables and chairs.
A recent show at The Bayou included three local bands, Modern Yesterday with Triggerfish and Pods. It is almost a certainty that when you see Modern Yesterday live, you will not come away disappointed. They always have a great live show. This night was no exception. The club was packed. Singer Andrew Hellier captivated the crowd when he began the set with a powerful a capella version of "Closely." From there the band launched into a pure rock and roll show with Andrew climbing a tower of speakers to the balcony and continued singing while sitting on the railing.
This show was the second opportunity we had to watch with amazement the awesome guitar work of new lead guitarist, Scott Schwertfeger (formerly of Pittsburgh's Sleeping Giants) With Hellier's vocals and guitars, Schwertfeger's lead guitar, Steve Augustine's bass and Eddie Anzueto's drum work, it is apparent that this is a professional, very talented and tight band. The crowd really reacted when they started into "Tink", a song about being young and having your own opinion doesn't necessarily mean you disrespect your parents. This song, a personal favorite, has became somewhat of an anthem for the band.
To close the set, the lead singer of Triggerfish joined the band on stage to sing an excellent cover of the Door's "Roadhouse Blues." Catch them local while you can....they have signed with a major label and a national tour is inevitable!
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