Rosey (SDDialedIn.com) kickin’ up dust

Rosey is a buddy, and one of my primary inspirations for getting this blog up and rolling. Now that we’re both moonlighting at Citybeat, I have to give her props for a legit Locals Only this week. Slap fights breaking up tours? Gypsy punks getting arrested in TJ, only to be sprung by a “guy who knows a guy”? This is hot shit. I want to be a detective in the world that Rosey’s got the pulse of. It sounds like an interesting place to be. I’m guessing next week’s will be even better.

Prayers going to England? Sounds about right. Hopefully they can get some NME love and become the next Louis XIV.

Dirtbag and Dialed In: colonizing an alt-weekly near you

OK, first I jumped on board with writing features for Citybeat. Now Rosey at SDDialedin is ready to take over the Local’s Only gossip section. What’s going on here?

Expect lots of coverage of the Dynamite Walls 😉

My MusicMatters article on San Diego Bloggers

…has been lovingly transcribed by the beautiful and talented Rosemary Bystrak of SD Dialed In. You can read it online here. I interviewed cat dirt, sddialedin and chickrawker for the piece. I liked it so much, I bought the compa–er, I started my own. Which I currently neglect.
Oh, if you know any of the MusicMatters people, tell ’em to get their stuff online!

Salem Witch trials…

I was feeling a little bit tapped out from swatting Pitchfork-reading flies all afternoon over at sddialedin.com–that is, until I realized that today is the 315th anniversary of the hangings that resulted from the Salem Witch Trials. In honor of said date, I thought I would take a little strong down musical memory lane with a witch-themed band I think is rad. Hey, it’s better than another 500 words on whether or not people should be able to video blip-on-the-radar indie rockers.

Witch is J. Mascis’s other band. He’s is better known for a) playing guitar in Dinosaur Jr. and b) looking like Bob from Twin Peaks. It’s a little known fact that he also plays drums in Witch, a strange, heavy, heshy metal band. I got to see about ten minutes of them at SXSW last year. It was at a bizarre afterparty that took place about two miles from the strip. Other than Witch, the highlights of that event were running into Adam Gnade and seeing one of the people from our label piss his jeans a little bit. As I recall he didn’t have a chance to change before flying home.

Heebie Jeebies, volume 1 and 2. J’s on the left, Bob’s on the right

San Diego needs to get to work giving me more reasons to write about San Diego. I didn’t get started with this enterprise to talk about Twin Peaks and guitar-slinging heroes from the days of grunge.

Show Review: The Bronx at the Beauty Bar

I arrived at the BB around 8:45 PM and found the place already somewhat full. Ran into some friends I hadn’t seen in a while: Kipper, who was DJing, Justin from Silverbird/Counterfit, and Tony from Fever Sleeves. Justin seems to be doing well and is excited about getting Silverbird out on the road. I’m excited for him, too.

By 9:15, the bar area was completely full, a fact that may or may not have had something to do with Nathan Black’s assertions that cover and booze was free before 10 PM. It was, sort of: the booze was being given away along with a promotion by Camel cigarettes. If you smoke, this doesn’t present an ethical quandary. For some of us, telling us we get free booze for signing up on Camel’s mailing list is like asking us to join NAMBLA for a $10 rebate on our next gas fillup.

Tonight we were all victims of the “amazing added band” trick. The band in question is Alarma, from Los Angeles. Tony from Fever Sleeves correctly pointed out that their drummer looks an awful lot like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. The other dudes look, well, like dudes in a band from LA that write songs about wanting to fuck women when they’re high. That’s the main lyric from their second song: “I wanna fuck you when your high.” Oh yeah, I think they also said, “I’m gonna feed you drugs,” but that part might not be a direct quote.

Creepy lyrics aside, this band’s chief concern should be getting to the point a little more quickly. It took until their fourth song for them to stumble upon a decent groove and riff. Thankfully, from that point forward the band loosened the groove and came off as aping early Zeppelin instead of aimlessly meandering through soulless coke rock (cat dirt called it out; this hipster embrace of 80s Sunset Strip culture is pretty humorous, though not without its own logic–vapid is as vapid does). Maybe that’s the vibe they’re going for. If so, good for them. They nailed it. As with most Beauty Bar crowds who aren’t watching exactly what they came to see, they welcomed the band with stunned indifference.

The Bronx was another story. As I’ve said before, the Bronx are a quintessential Casbah band and tonight’s crowd proved it. Let’s just say that the Beauty Bar has never exprienced quite so high a concentration of large dudes with black t-shirts who don’t give a rat’s ass about Marc Jacobs before. The Bronx are known for being confrontational and singer Matt Caughthran doesn’t seem happy until he’s got the crowd worked into a real frenzy, which took approximately two seconds from when they hit the stage. “It’s been a while since we’ve played, especially here in the United States,” he said. A moment later, the band charged into “Heart Attack American,” and the burly crowd launched as if spring-loaded toward him. Mid-song he leaned down and grabbed me by the throat/collar, using me for ballast as he leaned out over the churning mass in front of him. Troy Johnson was in there for a while–I lost track of him pretty quickly, however. I’m pretty sure he didn’t whip out his spin kicks or floor punches, but you never know.

Pic courtesy of Rosey at sdialedin.com

I turned to the security guard who was stationed at the back of the pit and asked if anyone had warned them how it would be on a night like this. “No, but I’m prepared for anything,” was his reply. Though I think he firmly believes that, it occurred to me at the moment that he was basically out there on an island. On a night like that the Casbah will have four or five extra security people on hand just in case things get too wild. I get the impression that one of the facets of being a younger venue is learning that kind of thing as you go, a process that will no doubt be slowed somewhat by the fact that different promoters are at the helm almost every night. Still, Mr. Security Guard gets big points for simply, but firmly, telling a crowd surfer to stop without physically engaging him or acting like a dick. Good on you, should you stumble across this.

The Bronx are not without good humor, however. About four songs in, Caughthran stopped to thank the event’s sponsor. Affecting a fake, half-country accent, he said, “I’d like to thank all the people at Camel for all the sort-of free booze and the lots of free cigarettes–but mostly cigarettes,” he deadpanned, getting lots of good natured laughs from the crowd. Pretty quickly the scrum was back on, as the band went into “Your Shitty Future.”

Though their set was fun and energetic, it did sound like they were working off–if not rust–then a coat of dust. They weren’t particularly loose–these guys never are–but I’ve seen them play tighter. Then again, given the active crowd, semi-free booze and backyard house party atmosphere, tightness really wasn’t the order of the day. Ken Horne (formerly of the Dragons) is on guitar, too, though most of the time I couldn’t really get righted enough to tell whether he was a necessary addition to Jobi Ford. There will be pics added to this post later (damn that cable!), so check back to see if your lovely face made it.

PS: I didn’t stick around for Gods Girls.

Show Review: Transfer, Apes of Wrath, the Vulgar Herd @ the Ken Club

Oh the Dialed In and the Dirtbag should be friends,
Oh the Dialed In and the Dirtbag should be friends,
One may dig the Dynamite Walls,
The other digs stuff with more balls,
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

Rosey and I met up last night at the Ken Club to see Transfer and Apes of Wrath celebrate the most famous pro-slavery, anti-tax revolt in history (in honor of this aristocratic rebellion, I tried to affect my best Thurston Howell for the photo). It was almost impossible for me to believe that this would be my first time seeing Transfer. Transfer arrived in San Diego about the same time as The North Atlantic, and while it took them a little longer to get going, my, my, are they going. The Ken was packed from 9:30 PM on, with Transfer’s usual mixture of well-meaning hippies, older folks digging on their Zeppelin-esque 70s vibe, and PB denizens. I recognized virtually no one, a sign I take as positive. Bands that appeal primarily to other musicians may benefit from all sorts of scene cred, but ask any professional band (by which I mean any band trying to make money making music) and they’ll tell you that what they need are fewer post-show discussions of effects pedals and more people standing in their merch line. Transfer seem to be one of the favorite bands of the non-hipster crowd, which in my book is a good thing. It usually means that the band can play and that their tunes mean more than their ability to do the hang. Good for them.

First up, presumably, was the Vulgar Herd. Two initial observations: 1. these guys roll with a TON of gear and take a little too long getting off stage and packed up, and 2. the other bands apparently didn’t know they would be there. Given these two facts, I was predisposed to not liking them purely for matters of band etiquette. That said, I was amused and entertained by their odd mixture of of Pretzel Logic-era Steely Dan and Europe, of all bands. The crowd didn’t quite seem to be picking up on what they were putting down: if not for a back wall, I’m pretty sure most onlookers would have been standing in front of the WaMu across the street. I liked them alright, though, and they seemed to be having a good time.

 

Next was Apes of Wrath. My brother Jason was excited to see this band because he works with the drummer, who apparently has spent every conversation the two of them have had downplaying the quality of both his drumming and his band. And while low expectations are easy to surpass, he needn’t have worried: Apes of Wrath were fun, interesting and energetic. The best I can do to describe them would be to imagine Bloc Party covering Thin Lizzy and Television songs: tandem guitar flourishes, manic, fevered drumming, and tight, bouncy bass made the band very fun for the musician in me. When their singer finds the vocal hooks to match their considerable compositional skills, I’ll be swearing up and down that its time to break out the anointing oil.

 

 

Transfer was the big draw this evening. By the time they (somewhat shakily, judging by singer Matt Molarius’s laughter) eased into the first notes of their first song, the crowd was already in good spirits. I’d estimate there were at least 150 in the music room for their set–or, put another way, considerably more than it was designed to hold:

 

The highlight of the set for me was the new track “You Are the Wolf,” Transfer’s contribution to the upcoming Black Box compilation, which probably does the best job of showcasing the band’s unique knack for shoehorning pop songs into expansive soundscapes that reference but don’t ape classic rock; the kind of tune that has earned comparisions to bands like My Morning Jacket. Other songs, however, played it closer to the leather vest, so to speak: at their worst, Transfer sound like a competent, Zeppelin-inspired classic rock band. While that’s no faint praise, the more they can do to escape the comfortable but well-worn territory of 70s rock, the better.

PS: Where were the suits? Oh, right–it’s always 120 degrees in the Ken Club music room.