Sunday, March 21, 2010

Live:The Crying Spell, Wild Orchid Children, Some Other Bands: 3/20/10

The Crying Spell - Neumos, Seattle, WA 3/20/10
Plus Guests:
Wild Orchid Children
Dynamo Effect
Ghost Town Riot

Clap Your Hands, Y'all.

Part of gaining some critical perspective is figuring out what you don't like - That's the easy bit. The hard part to avoid becoming a complete asshole in the process. I admit, I have done wrong. When you drunkenly yell at the top of your lungs, "YOU'RE WAY BETTER THAN THE BAND BEFORE YOU," you think you're being funny until someone walks in front of you, puts his hand on your shoulder, and says, "I'm in that band."

This happened during Wild Orchid Children's set. For full disclosure, WOC is the band of a friend and co-worker, but they are quite talented.  They got the opportunity to play a Saturday night show at Neumos (who could turn that down?) but had the misfortune of sharing the bill with some other artists who might as well have been from a different, much more Emo galaxy. WOC played well, albiet to a somewhat bewildered audience, using their great chops for sort of fun psychedelia that's easy to get lost in but never boring.

I won't comment on Ghost Town Riot; I didn't catch their set. I arrived in time to see Dynamo Effect, and I was alone and only 2 songs deep when I decided I it was time to retreat to the bar and spare myself the hearing damage. Sure, D.E. Rocked - And Rocked Real Good - in a similar fashion to the hyper-masculine way Creed Rocked or Hoobastank Rocked, circa 2002.

So whatever it was Dynamo Effect was trying to do, they did it well, but that's not the point. I didn't have time to explain this when the next awkward moment arrived. It wasn't long before I found myself at neighboring urinals with the same guy. I think this is a fundamental part of the male experience. When two grown men are standing next to each other with their cocks hanging out in the open, there's no room for bullshit. I knew I owed him an apology, and he turned out to be a likable and earnest character, though understandably a little bruised. He expressed some disappointment with his own performance on the bass. I hadn't noticed. Not the issue, I tried, and failed, to articulate.

So what was the issue? There's playing well, and there's playing what you play well, and then there's originality, perspective, imagination. If there's any of these areas where D.E. falls short, it's the latter. It's not hard to spot. When I read a book, and the first two chapters completely fail to impress me, I don't feel unjustified in not bothering to finish it. This is no different. And I'm not easily impressed.

To their credit, Dynamo Effect at least had a shred of authenticity. The headliner, The Crying Spell (I could stop there) had all the same shortcomings, but to make matters worse, they seemed intent on blowing more steam out their asses than even their fog machines could manage. If a photo published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2008 is any indicator, these dudes take themselves pretty fucking seriously. A glance at their website, stage props, shiny new instruments, their high-production video of themselves rocking out in the desert (yeah, that's original) and their MySpace page show that for an "unsigned" band, they've got everything money can buy but not a lot that it can't.

Let me be clear: It's only the latter that's a problem, and it takes more than a slick hairdo and striking Christ-like poses onstage and writing songs with titles like "Beautiful" to prove otherwise. TCS have branded themselves thoroughly, but only in the same tasteless aesthetic as the music itself. When you rely on repeatedly pushing the melodrama button, you'll attract a certain audience, but I'm going to guess it'll only be the kind who like to post skanky photos of themselves on MySpace in hopes of showing up in your top friends. It's a path already well worn by The Bravery and The Killers and any number of much worse early 2000s commercial "Modern Rock" acts, the kind of radio-friendly sludge the major labels kept jamming down our collective throats, all the while blaming their declining revenues on Napster. Sure, Wild Orchid Children have an over-designed MySpace page of their own, but at least they had the good sense to smear some dirt on themselves. Clearly they're ambitious and have some resources at their disposal, but it's nice that they don't suck. As for The Crying Spell, I know there are plenty of dudes who work at Guitar Center or pseudo-Goth hairstylists who think this shit is cool. I have news for them: It's not.

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