Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Mars Volta @Roseland Ballroom, 5/6/05

The Mars Volta are really good; I'm not going to argue with that. They play their instruments with skill and talent and blend a wide variety of influences in a way that manages not to be jarring. They have managed to achieve fairly mainstream success with music that is difficult to say the least. I have a bunch of their songs downloaded on my ipod and whenever they come up in my shuffle, I enjoy listening to them. "What a clever band," I think, "incorporating samba into indie prog. Those adorably big-haired ingenues!" But the concert was a lot different from my ipod. The songs were longer and there was no fast-forward button. True, Cedric had happy feet the entire time and did interesting things with the mic stand, bizarre creatures decorated the backdrop, and their fros were nothing less than hypnotic...but without a controlled substance to see me through, I simply got bored. The endless guitar solos were like Carlos Santana on Viagra. Cedric's wailing was impressive, but it would've been even better if I could have understood the words. I felt exactly like I was at the opera, due in large part to the foreign language, period costume, long complicated songs, and refusal to just die already. I couldn't help thinking there was something I just wasn't getting, that if I would only put in a little more time and effort, I'd suddenly relish every second of the 2+ hour show...but the most I could manage was long periods of impressed staring between my multiple trips to the bathroom. Sadly, I think my contact with the Mars Volta will have to be confined to single songs on my ipod from now on; I'm already being forced to take Music Hum next semester, and I just don't have room in my schedule.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Unisex Salon and Billionaire Boys Club @Arlene's Grocery, 4/22/05

This show was sort of an outro for the Suicide Girls fashion show, and as such it was very well-attended. My official job during the fashion show was "dresser;" i.e. I ripped clothing off of the Suicide Girls as they came offstage. After this exciting task I needed some musical release, so I was a bit disappointed when Unisex Salon played. They were really cheesy but not in a good way. Their new wave influenced dance "rock" was really repetitive and not at all catchy like good dance rock should be! I danced a little but quickly became bored and began to make fun of the male singer with Zui Suicide, one of the hottest and most elven chicks I've ever met. We made a game out of counting how many gayass clich├ęs we could find tattooed on his body and we came up with four: nautical stars, bluebirds, flames, and playing cards. Five, since I'm sure he has a sexy devil on his ass as well or something equally lame. Anyway, we soon tired of this and went over to the bar to have drinks bought for us while we waited for Billionaire Boys Club to come on.
Billionaire Boys Club were a welcome dose of up-tempo rock and roll that shook me from my Unisex-induced stupor. These guys clearly wanted the audience to have fun. So did Unisex Salon, but the difference here was that BBC actually helped the audience to do so with their music, while Unisex simply looked like fun but failed to deliver (what a cocktease!). Their songs had some punchy guitar riffs that sounded like they came from emo territory, and this mixed remarkably well with what was mostly a blues-based rock sound that hearkened back to 90's bands like STP and Buck Cherry. The singer even sounded a little like Weiland, but at times he also reached further back into 80's glam or even classic rock territory (think Mick Jagger!). This combined with a solid rhythm section (featuring a bassist who could actually play!) and the occasional guitar solo to create an ass-shaking, head-bobbing, beer-finishing-to-facilitate-more ass-shaking, good rock show. The only thing I found slightly jarring was that every now and then the main singer would trade vocals with one of the guitarists, whose high emo-sounding voice didn't fit that well with the vibe of the band. If and when these guys get signed (and I think they could in a few years, they're doing all the right things and the hip NYC kids seem to like them), they're going to have to make their sound a little more cohesive, but from what I've heard so far, that won't be terribly difficult. Come on, Billionaire Boys Club; even the Donnas had to pick a singer, and they all sound the same! Warped Tour or Ozzfest? I think the choice is clear.