January 16, 2012

Black Taxi / Lights Resolve / The Bright Light Social Hour / The Attic Ends - Bowery Ballroom - January 14th, 2012

On Saturday,  Black Taxi celebrated the release of their new CD We Don't Know Any Better by inviting 3 of their favorite Indie bands to open up the for them. The result was a show that was truly a special musical event. Each band was musically different from the one that followed but all four bands insured the audience had a good time.

The Attic Ends

At 8:36, The Attic Ends kicked off the show with songs they are in the process of recording as well as songs from their current CD Home. The band started to play their first song, and new single, "The Real You" before their sexy singer Samantha Rex made her entrance.

Rex wore a long coat which she soon took off to reveal her sheer white gown covering what looked like an embroidered bathing suit. (If this were a fashion blog - I 'd have a better way to describe her outfit; since it's not - what I've described will have to do.) Bob King's drums to "The Real You" sounded sort of tribal. When Rex took off the coat during a musical break she danced around breathing a high pitched "huh" into the mic. She ended the song by repeating the line "Show me love -you - show me love."

There is definitely the flavor of Evanescence in The Attic Ends' music. But I found The Attic Ends' approach more indie rock with Rex having a more exotic flavor as opposed to Evanescence's heavy rock feel and Amy's Lee's Goth stance. During The Attic Ends' set there was a compelling dramatic flavor to Pete Hur's rhythmic guitar playing and Jan Christiansen's keys that underlined Rex's pleading vocals on songs like "Who Are You?" and the latter part of "Home."

All and all The Attic Ends, joined by bassist Ernest D'amaso, performed an aggressive and powerful set of mostly new material. Rex didn't talk too much between songs but she did mention that the band had a newly released video for their song "Home." and it was their bands first time at Bowery Ballroom. I'm sure it won't be their last.

The Attic Ends' Set list:
1. The Real You
2. Follower
3. Who are you?
4. I Want More
5. Your Light
6. It May Be
7. Home
8. Mark Of the Moon

The Attic Ends are:
Vocals: Samantha Rex
Guitars: Pete Hur Keyboards: Jan Christiansen
Drums: Bob King
On Bass -Ernest D'amaso

The Bright Light Social Hour

The Bright Light Social Hour, a band from Austin, Texas, was the evenings surprise performance. The sound of The Bright Light Social Hour's music is southern rock meets dance or as they use say "it has a good beat and you can dance to it!"

The bands vocals are akin to The Eagles,The Doobie Brothers and maybe even Poco but a lot more sparse. Each member of the band had long shoulder length hair which they whipped around and let fly in front of their face as they played guitar (or drums.). And during their set there were several bluesy guitar solos over a dance beat. If ever I had a 70s flashback, The Bright Light Social Hour's set was it.

Take for example the song "Shanty" which was one of my favorite songs.   A.J. Vincent comped on piano (played set pattern of chords in rhythmic fashion) while Joseph Mirasole on drums gave the song a dance feel and Krisana Soponpong played a disco like thumpin' bass. Part what made the song feel more like southern rock beside the chord progression and vocals, was Curtis Roush playing slide guitar.

In a very pleasant way, The Bright Light Social Hour reminded me of Tragedy which is a heavy metal Bee Gees cover band. At least there set included some of the same sense of humor. For example, when Soponpong introduced the old fashioned 12/8 jammie "Detroit," he made me laugh by saying "this a song about funckin'." After the song he said "Y'all doin' okay - let's have some fuckin' fun!!

"Bare Hands, Bare Feet" was another song that was one of my favorites - it also made me laugh. The hook that gets repeated throughout the song is "Let's build a city, bare hands bare feet!" The song made me think of Kiss in a lot of ways - I'm not sure if it was the music itself or the madman macho theatricality of their delivery that was very Kiss without the makeup.

"Back and Forth" was the song that really got me going. It had a bassline straight out of the disco era with that octave walk up. The same sort baseline that's on Slyvester's "Disco Heat" or Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." I watched the bands video for the song while writing this and have to say that I loved the blue gym shorts and the boys sipping wine in drag.

The Bright Light Social Hour most definitely made Black Taxi's CD release party a memorable experience. I want to see them again!!

The Bright Light Social Hour Set List
1.Sweet Madeleine"
4.Bare Hands, Bare Feet
5.La Piedra De La Iquana
6.Slip Away
7.Back and Forth
8.Rhubarb Jam

The Bright Light Social Hour are:
Jack O'Brien - vocals, bass.
Curtis Roush - vocals, guitar.
A.J. Vincent - vocals, keyboards.
Joseph Mirasole - drums

Lights Resolve

Lights Resolve's is a trio with a big sound and vocalist with a dynamic and emotional range, namely Matthew Reich. According to Wikipedia, the band formed in 2006, and has a sound similar to Muse and The Bravery.

Lights Resolve's bassist Luke Daniels seemed to be on stage for awhile before the bands set actually started. It seemed Daniels and drummer Neal Saini were there for awhile before guitarist Matthew Reich walked out with a plastic cup on his head. The band opened up their set with "Sew It Up" which starts off very NIN and ends of very Nirvana, so much so the song could be paying homage to the 90s.

"With The Pieces" is when I found myself really starting to enjoying Lights Resolve sound - hard, driving, but still for lack of a better way to stating it, power pop with a clear cut verse chorus. During the song, Daniels bassline at times definitely reminded me of Krist Novoselic from Nirvana.

Just like the song before it, "Lost and Jaded" had a very singable hook "Oh no, where we gonna go now? We've been lost and jaded. Where we gonna go?." Toward the end of the song, the band completely dropped out and let the audience sing along.

"Dreaming of Love" had a vocal melody that reminded me of Robert Smith from The Cure and more contemporary bands like the The Wombats and The Shout Out Louds. I think that is what I liked most about Lights Resolve, the music was hard but the melodies were memorably singable.

Reich announced "Happens Every Day," as the opening cut on their CD that came out in October of 2011. But before doing the next song, Reich introduced a masked guitarist by the name of Ry Ry. I wrote and asked for the guy's real name but Reich wasn't giving it up. Ry Ry could be anyone from a well know illustrator or alias for someone in the band Glassjaw (they have a song titled "Ry Ry's Song.") I will just leave the question for anyone who may read this posting and be in the know.

Lights Resolve did 5 more songs after Ry Ry appeared including "Gemini," which Reich admitted was about being one.  The band ended with "Another Five Days." which had the crowd dancing along. I looked at the official video for the song and noticed that there was an additional person playing guitar and doing background vocals. The guy looked like Ezra Huleatt from Black Taxi. ....And so, it was an awesome set full of powerful music and one or two mysteries.

Lights Resolve Set List
1.Sew it Up
2.With The Pieces
3. Lost & Jaded
4. Dreaming of Love
5.Happens Every Day
7.Stick'em Up
8.My Gemini
9. Misfire
10.Another Five Days

Lights Resolve are:
Matthew Reich – Vocals, Guitar
Neal Saini – Drums
Luke Daniels – Bass

Guest Masked Guitarist - Ry Ry

Black Taxi

When I'm sometimes going to see a band I know little about, I ask their publicist if he or she can send me digital download of their music. Black Taxi's publicist sent me a copy of the CD they were about to release titled We Don't Know Any Better. I wasn't expecting such a great album. Sonically, musically and in terms of song sequence, We Don't Know Any Better is really a well done recording.

Black Taxi started out with a song I didn't know and was later only able to find on line on YouTube. From the moment the band started the song, "Don't Count Me Out" I knew I was going to love Black Taxi. They are not your conventional rock band. Each member seems to have their own personality and their own little look going on. Especially, the bare chested american indian body painted Ezra Huleatt who went back and forth between keyboards, horn and vocals.

Though most of the evening was about songs from the new CD, Black Taxi managed to spit out songs from their previous CD Things Of That Nature beginning with "Pretty Mama." For that song, Huleatt switched between a marching band percussion bell kit and his horn while trading off vocals with guitarist Bill Mayo. As they played the song, I thought how can I not like a band that rhymes "got ta go" with "domino."

Before doing the first new song for the evening from their newly released CD, Black Taxi introduced it by playing what seemed to be a musical prelude of Joe Jacksons's "Steppin' Out." Jason Holmes kicked off the prelude on drums as Huleatt ran around stage playing on a cowbell and Mayo played the melody on guitar. Once Mayo went directly into the opening guitar riff of "Do What You Gotta Do" the crowd cheered.

Black Taxi seemed to move up one more notch when they played the opening song of their new CD "Tightrope." Huleatt played tambourine while vocally emoting the song's hook as a few people in the crowd raised their hands and sang along. Bass player Krisana Soponpong looked like he was feeling the crowds impetus by rocking out on bass and moving around on his side of the stage.

"Becoming" was a little disappointing because on the recording there sounds like there's a bunch of kids singing. I think the live arrangement has to change a little by making the music a little more sparse because Huleatt's vocals got lost. Other than that, I still think it's a cool song.

That reminds me. I got to Bowery Ballroom early so I could snag a seat in the balcony. As I was doing so, one of the club's staff was putting a velvet rope across the section in front of me. Seems that someone in Black Taxi had there 2 little brothers, cousins, or whatever there to see the show. I can't help but think how proud those 2 kids must have felt, getting the royal treatment, knowing their relative was on stage.

The band did two more songs that I was unacquainted with on the day of the concert. Huleatt introduced a guy and girl who I think he mentioned were supportive in helping them record their new CD. The two were each given acoustic wooden guitars which they smashed on stage during "Up Here For Thinking, Down There For Dancing." I'm guessing, but the moment was probably auctioned off to raise funds.

Aside from the guitar smashing moment, during "Up Here For Thinking, Down There For Dancing." Mayo's vocals on the song reminded me of Colin Hay from Men at Work. Mayo also sang "It's A Ball" which was my favorite song of the those I didn't know at the time of the show. And while I'm giving Mayo props, his guitar work for "Balloons on Barbed Wire" was cooking as was the small solo he took during the part where Soponpong, Huleatt and Holmes broke into reggae. Mayo did some more great guitar work on "Vultures" but I was more impressed by Soponpong's bassline during the chorus.

"Take a Ticket" was another one of those songs I was hearing for the first time and this time Mayo's vocal reminded me of David Byrne - at it's very least the song was very 80's maybe late 70's. Heleatt got to do his marching band routine again this time with a big bass drum.

As the show was nearing the end, Black Taxi's set got crazier - in a good way. During one of the best cuts on the CD, namely "Friend," Heleatt played a muted horn solo. The band did "We Don't Know Any Better." As I remember it, first the band did the entire song, then brought out a 5 piece horn section to do a reprise. As everyone played the reprise tag on stage, Heleatt made his way through the audience, up to the balcony opposite to where I was sitting, climbed over the railing and jumped off. (Do worry the jump was feet not stories!)

There's not much more to tell except that Black Taxi ended on a high note, well maybe several high notes. Huleatt used a megaphone to sing "Shoeshine" and sounded like he ran his voice through some type of vocoder for "Head On A Pike." The band ended with "Hand" which I'm glad they did because I would have went home pissed if they did not.

Black Taxi did not do an encore. But after a show that included 3 other bands and their own killer set- they didn't need to. Everyone went home happy - and if they didn't go home....they went somewhere...happy. Black Taxi will be playing Mercury Lounge on February 11th. That show won't be a CD release party but I'm sure it will be just as fabulous.

Black Taxi Set List
1. Don’t Count Me Out
2. Pretty Mama
3. Do What You Gotta Do
4. Tightrope
5. Becoming
6. Up Here For Thinking, Down There For Dancing
7. It's A Ball
8. Balloons on Barbed Wire
9. Vultures
10. Take A Ticket
11. Friend
12. We Don't Know Any Better
13. Shoeshine
14. Head On A Pike
15. Hand

Black Taxi are:
Ezra Huleatt - vocals, keys, trumpet
Bill Mayo - vocals,guitar
Krisana Soponpong - bass
Jason Holmes - drums, vocals

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