Monday, February 9, 2009

The Kids are Alright: House Shows, Georgia Style

Somebody posts a bulletin on Myspace, flyers the walls at school, texts a few people, and we show up. Jason and Eric's. Ria's House of Sin (bring some paint for the walls). Jackson's shed in our many warm months. Or Bobby and Tina's (especially if she's baking cakes). Bonfire and trees and Spanish moss, kids on porches, lots of vinyl against the wall. Drums and guitars. Music in South Georgia happens in homes, because the bars want cover bands so drunk sorority girls and jocks can sing and swill along. It's not that we don't like covers at the house shows--a good song or two in a set is expected. But there are few places for original bands to play in this town, which surprisingly boasts much excellent original music. In this blog, I will summarize the last few weeks here, why I stay.

Last Friday Madeline came into town on her way to Gainesville and she played a solo set at Jason and Eric's. John G. opened and sang his childlike, offbeat songs and strummed pleasurably as the crowd grew inside and on the porch. One might say that he's our version of Daniel Johnston, but John is finishing an MA degree in Biology, so whatever madness compels him comes most likely from a bottle. (Later he was excused after excess overcame him and he accidentally put Bo's head through a window, but usually there's no drama, and even so, all is quickly forgiven).

Madeline Adams of Madeline was lovely and her voice bell perfect as she belted out songs of love, loss, grief, and the classic conflict between desire and faith ("the bible or the bottle" indeed). Her new album, White Flag, set for release this month, boasts some of her best songwriting to date. And as listeners to the album will discover, surrender isn't necessarily a bad thing. Even in the face of death and despair and lost love, desire remains her touchstone. So surrender. Maybe it was because it was a house show, but she looked up into the audience while she sang, asked for suggestions, seemed, well, at home, hanging out with friends. They knew all her songs and she played until she ran out of ones she remembered the words to.

Trailer of Tears (affectionally known as TOTs) played next. TOTs is a side project of local music godfathers Ninja Gun's drummer Jeffrey Haineault, and blends doo-wop, psychedelic rock, glam, and punk with exciting results. He and NG's talented frontman Jonathan Coody recorded the Myspace tracks at the infamous trailer, though now Jeffrey has surrounded himself with a live band of local talents. Travis of Gainesville veterans Towers of Hanoi remarked at their Gainesville debut last week that Jeffrey seems to be in one of those amazing creative zones. He doesn't know what he can't do yet, and let's hope he never finds out. Travis said Pavement and I said Roy Orbison and we both said yes. And we could have said Brian Ferry and Jerry Lee Lewis and T. Rex and Chuck Berry and Replacements and we would have said yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. The Myspace songs are just the tip of what has been coming down from their DiCaprio-killing iceberg, given the new songs they've added to their oeuvre that aren't even recorded yet. When they play house shows, it's loud and fun and the crowd is effervescent with energy (and PBR). Taylor Patterson keeps a steady beat on drums along with Bobby on bass, while Jason adds deft lead to Jeffrey's punked up doo-wop/glam croons.

No More Analog closed out this night, Taylor back on drums along with the Captain on bass and vocals and Jackson on lead and vocals, and this fine trio played a strong set of pumped up punk and power pop. NMA isn't afraid to raunch it up, and so if songs about pregnant sex ("No Vacancy") and hermaphrodites ("Pseudosexual") offend, well, you wouldn't have been invited in the first place. But their sound blends bass forward fist pumping punk with classic 80's and 90's guitar pop sensibilities (think Replacements, Cracker, Soul Asylum, Pixies) with an irreverence only a place this deep in the south could produce. They're newest song, "Fresh Romance," sounded especially fine, as its chorus screams, "Tonight."

Just a week before that, pretty much the same lineup of locals showed up at Jason and Erik's in support of Greenland is Melting, a "fauxlk" band featuring banjo, an old suitcase fitted with a bass drum pedal, mandolin, the occasional guitar, and lots of vocal enthusiasm. It's hard not to get caught up in their downhome upbeat songs laced with irony and humor. They're fun and coming back here next month for more and I'll be there.

P.A.W. (Pinnacle of American Weaponry) played their two songs that night. P.A.W. is a new project featuring Nick Riggle of VD veterans Second to Edison along with Jake and Jeffrey from Ninja Gun and Jason Storer of TOTs. Still too new to characterize, so far I've heard driving guitar-driven rock and I'm looking forward to more from them.

And a week before that, Ria opened her House of Sin to a ten-band show featuring most of the local bands above, along with False Arrest and Mandala.

False Arrest is a phenomonal band of four young men intent on resurrecting 80's hardcore, if only to pull its brain out by the stem and smash it to the floor. I missed them at the House of Sin show, because I was hosting David St. John's poetry reading, but they play all out. Jimi is a gymnastic frontman screaming out vocals and slamming his slim half-naked form all over the floor ("I don't even know what's going on in my own head"). Teddi and Bo handle guitar and bass, and Anthony machine guns on drums.

I walked into the show while Mandala was playing their psychedelic instrumental space jams. Some of their extended guitar riffs remind me of Hum or Quickspace, dense and throbbing and complex, at times majestic in their sound scape. I love "Readheads, Huh," which I can hear Dave, bass and guitar, saying in poetry class quizzically and without irony. They've threatened to write lyrics, but it's the guitar interplay and complex rhythms that make this more than acid jams.

Meanwhile, people are coming and going, painting on the walls, a sudden Francis Baconesque figure at the back of the house, pixies and cartoon balloons, the obligatory naked manikin hung from the ceiling. Or vinyl Joe Jackson spinning while folks are still arriving, or the hot shed full noise and mirth when it's warm. Tina will be usually be dancing and everyone is welcome, even the police officers if they happen show up to shut us down, and they occasionally do, but not before a lot of good music has fed our local starving ears. Ya'll come over for the next one.


Queen Whackamole said...

Sounds like a time! I feel a little hungover just reading about it.

George said...

Never can have too much music. You can have too much Hollister on Oscar night, though.

Oh, your link to Madeline has a blank space after the http:// so it doesn't work.

Marty said...

Lots of fun, yes. Missed the Oscars and generally do since no one has Oscar parties here. Link's fixed, though. Enjoy.