Long live rock, I need it every night

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Middle Distance Runner/Black Tie Review/The Nunchucks

August 26 saw the denizens of Rock Club assemble at Velvet Lounge for a three-fer of bands. For once, each RC member was accompanied by a chick. Unfortunately, they were all wives and ex/current girlfriends. But still, there were women with us. We even had a surplus girl, a non-wife/non-girlfriend. Maybe this is a portent of things to come, as Rock Club becomes more popular, and we members become international playboys. The ratio of wives/girlfriends to unattached chicks will decrease in our favor. You'll see.

Anyway, on to the show. First up was the Nunchucks, a four-piece with a bass, guitar, keyboard and drums. The lead singer was an Asian guy with thick-framed black glasses and short hair; what looked to be his sister was on the keyboards. Upon seeing the keyboardist, Jumbo Slice scurried away with sweaty brow--I saw him later masturbating in a dark recess of the club. Despite that, the Nunchucks laid down a really good show--poppy, lots of hooks, enthusiastic playing. Good stuff. Jumbo Slice(before running off to rut against the cigarette machine) mentioned that they sounded like "the Asian Weezer"; I agreed but thought maybe they're more like the Asian Blink-182. Sorry, Brink-182. Either way, for an opener they were quality. The lead singer and keyboardist have a bright future ahead of them, either as rock stars or as IT consultants. I give the Nunchucks a 6.7.

Quick Digression--As always, I tried to tell a joke, and just before I got started, the music came in and drowned me out. So here's the joke: Imagine Beethoven as a modern day, 21st century rock star, playing a big arena. He struts to the mic and screams, helllloooo Cleveland, are you ready to rock? The crowd goes nuts. Beethoven says, I can't hear you!

See, that's the whole joke. Beethoven was deaf. So he couldn't hear the Cleveland crowd.

Okay, on to Black Tie Review. During the Nunchucks set, we were sitting on some risers in the back of the club. Next to us were a 4'11", 300 pound man, a Michael Caine circa 1971 lookalike, and an Emo Philips (circa now, I guess; haven't seen old Emo in a while) lookalike in a striped sailor shirt. If you've seen Little Miss Sunshine, the dude looked like the mute brother.

Here, some pictures for you:

On rhythm guitar and vocals, Artie Lange. Except this dude was wearing an aqua polo shirt.

On the keyboard/tambourine, the mute brother from Little Miss Sunshine.

Last but not least, Michael Caine (from Get Carter) on the lead guitar. Except our Caine doppelganger was wearing a Members Only jacket.

Okay, so there were other band members, but I couldn't get a good look at them, so I can't properly mock them. Anyway, once these fashion plates got on stage, all bets were off. I had no idea what they would sound like, with a mix of guys like that. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when they launched into their first song...loud guitar, hand clapping, yelling, good backbeat. It was like the Ramones meet Tom Petty meet Mooney Suzuki, or something like that. My theory is that, being from Pittsburgh, they have the alternative influence (much like Pittsburgh's favorite whack-job son, Andy Warhol), but also, being from Pittsburgh, they dearly wish to avoid getting their asses kicked by unemployed steel workers, so they have a guitar-heavy sound, and a fat, regular guy lead singer.

Whatever their motivations, it worked. This band rocked hard and all the songs were quick and to the point. Emo Philips even jumped out into the crowd to play the tambo--what more can you ask for? On the down side, they veered a little too much into frat rock territory, but again, once they escape Pittsburgh and the threat of nightly ass-whuppins they can start experimenting and branching out. But here's a message to the lead singer--don't change. Don't lose weight. Don't clean that grinder stain off of your aqua polo shirt. You, sir, are perfect the way you are. The Black Tie Review get a 7.1.

Okay, by the time Black Tie Review wrapped it up, it was about 1:00 am and people were starting to complain. Okay, my wife was complaining. But I couldn't hear everyone else, so I assume others were complaining as well. It can be difficult for civilians, if they're not accustomed to late night rockin'. My concern was that, after the superlative Nunchucks and Black Tie Review sets, that Middle Distance Runner had nowhere to go but down. Unfortunately, that was the case--MDR came out flaccid. If they were a sports team, the coach would have had to call timeout after the first ten minutes and make the band huddle up so he could yell at them. They aren't a bad band--there were definitely some catchy songs and when they speeded things up it got interesting. My feeling was, a band like Black Tie Review is great live, but MDR is more likely the CD you'll listen to when you're in your house, or car, or S&M basement dungeon. You know, atmosphere music. However, I was not in my house/car/dungeon, so MDR fell a little flat, in my opinion. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I ain't got it anymore. Don't know, really. They kind of had an ersatz Radiohead thing going, except it was the Radiohead where Thom Yorke goes "eeeehhhunnnhhhhoheeeh" into the mic while the band noodles in the background, not the Radiohead from The Bends, with the, you know, things I like to refer to as "songs". Ah well, let this be a lesson, MDR--next time pick some shitty opening bands. Although, I'm thinking they looked at Asian computer geeks the Nunchucks, and the freak show that is Black Tie Review, and thought to themselves, yeah, these are our guys--no way these freaks will outshine us. I give Middle Distance Runner a 5.9.


Potsy said...

Rolling Stone, eh? Does Jason Blair write for them now? I was surprised to see no citation for the Michael Cain comparison...

Jimbromski said...

Michael Caine, and Jayson Blair. See, at the show, when you remarked that the guitarist looked like "Michael Cain", I thought to myself, who's that? Later, upon reflection, I noted that he looked like Michael Caine, famous English actor. Thus I owe you no attribution.