Saturday, May 16, 2009

One Crazy (awesome) Line Up...

Seems to me like I've been seeing some great lineups at Southpaw lately and Friday night was no exception. I went to the show on a whim, having never even really heard any of the bands' music and I was quite glad that I went.

The first band up was Holy Ghost Tent Revival, from Greensboro, N. Carolina, who totally stole my heart. They're a pretty good-looking group of guys and they're the first band I've ever seen with headbanging banjo and trombone/brass players. They all did quite a bit of headbanging, actually. Their frenzied brand of rock bluegrass (with a hint of ragtime and big band among other sounds) was quite infectious and it wasn't long before they had some members of the audience dancing like crazy. I have to say, I have a bit of a crush on bass player Patrick Leslie whose strong voice alternated between angelically clear and devilishly raspy at the drop of a hat with his stellar vocal control. In my honest opinion, Holy Ghost Tent Revival stole the show. Not to say that I didn't immensely enjoy the rest of the bands. But these guys are the ones that I walked away wishing I could see them again the very next day, if only they were staying in NYC longer (they were headed to Scranton, PA yesterday).

Next up was the Wahoo Skiffle Crazies, a large DIY bluegrass band from Staten Island, with homemade instruments, washboard, saw, jug and all. The stage was barely big enough to hold all of them all but I was quite impressed by what they did with some of their more homemade instruments, particularly a bass made out of one string, a large stick the the bass player moved to stretch the string to different tones, and a wash basin. It sounded just like a regular upright bass! The things people can do with so few tools... While they were certainly more gentle-mannered than HGTR (no headbanging for this set), they were still great fun and also had the audience dancing up a storm. On top of the mp3 I have posted here, you can download 2 more for free off of their website.

Third was Drink Up Buttercup, from Philadelphia, and I have to admit that I didn't think I was going to like them. Their first song was kind of standard rock that didn't strike me as anything particularly unique or interesting and didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the set (or the band name...). But after that, their music got more and more bizarre (especially for a group of such normal looking guys) and that's when I really started to dig them. It was like rock 'n' roll meets haunted house/creepy circus soundtrack. Very surreal yet poppy at moments, but always rock-out-able, and rocking out people were. Actually, going back and listening to their EP now, they kind of remind me of the Beatles in their more experimental stage. They also had some DIY instruments like trash can tops and a tool box. By the end of their set, I really liked them a lot. I do have one criticism that might seem silly, but it was just kind of awkward to watch after a while and I feel like I have to say it: the bass player hardly ever stood up straight so he always looked like he had to pee.
Sosey Dosey [mp3] - (iTunes)

Lastly was Skeletonbreath. No, they're not a deathmetal band, though they do have some metal-sounding songs. They're a violin-bass-drums trio from Brooklyn who plays fast and furious jams that take hints from all genres, including but not limited to metal, rock, pop, klezmer, Eastern European, funk, and more. For those of you Consider the Source fans that might be reading this, definitely check out Skeletonbreath. These guys have a similarly intense instrumental jam trio thing going. They're great to watch live, as they're quite talented and have a lot of energy, particularly the violinist, who must have to replace his bow quite often as he kept ripping hairs off it throughout the performance and it looked like it was getting a little thin toward the end.

More pictures (albeit crappily lit ones) here.

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