Man in Gray, the Infidels, Electric Turn to Me, and the Unsacred Hearts @the Luna Lounge, 4/1/05
Man in Gray
This is not the first time I have seen this band. In fact, they were one of the first bands I checked out when I got to NYC last year. I immediately had to like lead singer Tina DaCosta, since she bears a striking resemblance to my cousin Heather, a hard-partying cokehead/cheerleader during the late 80’s/early 90’s, when I had the most contact with her via her babysitting of me (she’s married with children now and lives in Texas…pssh.) This is a good start towards describing Man in Gray (everything but the Texas part). Their music morphs effortlessly from good times badass beer-punk to punchy political numbers; their sticatto anti-war march “Incommunicado” bears resemblance to Sleater Kinney’s “Combat Rock,” and I’d venture to say it’s just as good. One of the songs also reminded of early No Doubt, back when they were unafraid to be melodramatic and dorky. Remarkably, Tina’s voice maintains its sweetness throughout; whether she is shouting ironic war commands or singing about a boy, she’s intense but never shrill. She spent a decent amount of time on the floor, crawling in between bassist Jared Friedman's legs at one point. Her shaggy haircut and schoolgirl uniform (reclaiming ties from Avril Lavigne is something I encourage) combined with her passionate flailing to make for some solid frontwomanship. Jared had some nice post-punk grooves, as did the two guitarists (Bryan Bruchman and Jeremy Joseph), and drummer Jeremiah McVay kept most songs at a fast, danceable pace, getting in some sick fills now and then. Everyone in the band got a turn to shine. They have an adorably sibling-like dynamic; the guitarist accidentally spilled Tina’s whiskey, so she “accidentally” spilled his mic-stand, right off the stage. Someone bought her another whiskey of course, which she downed in about five seconds in a very rock and roll fashion. They were all pretty drunk by the end of the set but they stayed tight. I actually think they’ve gotten tighter since I saw them last. This is clearly a band that doesn’t skip practice…they put in the time so they can rock out later without having to think about it. They were super nice when I met them after the show (Tina remembered me from before!) and when I told them I had a blog, they gave me a free CD. You can bet I’ll be jumping around in my underwear to it by approximately the time you read this.
Electric Turn to Me
If David Bowie were a skinny blonde chick in a New York post-punk band in 2005, this is what it would sound like. My first thought upon hearing them was that this was Corin Tucker channeling David Bowie. However, as the set progressed, I thought no, this is pure Bowie with only enough girly punk thrown in to keep it from being weird and/or a ripoff (this worked really, really well). The first song was fast and punky, but the rest of them were much more resplendent. The guitars receded into the background at times while the keyboardist had some theatrical and/or spooky bits, and the singer’s accent (I think she’s European), intonations, vibrato, and everything reminded me so much of Bowie it was downright creepy. Some of the more ballad type songs would have been right at home in a glam rock musical, probably Hedwig (only more badass). She even quoted Oscar Wilde! (“We’re all in the gutter, but we look at the stars.”) The band came in with backup vocals at all the perfect times. Sometimes the guitars used cool outer-space-like effects. The singer’s born-woman status added something different and new to the mix; I never once thought she was impersonating a female-impersonator. She was able to draw upon everything about Bowie and still keep her natural woman-angst, that angst that trannie boys can only theatricalize and imitate so much. I can’t really describe it beyond that, but if you are intrigued then you should definitely check them out and see for yourself.
Before they even started to play, I saw that the bassist played a 6-string and the drummer sang. This led me to believe they were probably really sick musicians, and I was right. The drummer/singer looked a little like Robbie Williams but he sang like David Byrne, at least at first. When he moved from low and yelpy to high and fluttery, he sounded more like Thom Yorke, or sometimes Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse. However, most of the time he sounded like a strange, lovely, foppish but totally rockin’ combination of the two. The bassist used all six of his strings, playing things I couldn’t begin to tablaturize. Their music sounded a little bit 80’s dance influenced but still very loud and punk...and complex, too. If I hadn’t been so tired at this point in the night, I definitely would have danced and danced. NOTE: I couldn't find their website online. If anyone knows what it is, please tell me, as they asked me to send them a link to my blog!
The Unsacred Hearts
I didn’t get there in time to see them but they gave me a CD and I promise to write about it soon.