Saturday, August 7, 2010

Obits and The Night Marchers at Alex's Bar, 7/20/10

I went into this show meaning to focus more on Obits, since I'd never seen them before, and I already did a lengthy review on the Night Marchers back in November.  But between Obits playing a bunch of new stuff that sucked me in and Speedo messing up the momentum of the Night Marchers set by overdoing the banter, I don't have a ton to say about either.  Brief thoughts to follow, if you please...

Not for nothing, but I was really excited about this one.  I feel that way about every show, true, but when you offer up a bill that puts all the members of Hot Snakes in one room, all of whom are currently playing for bands I really like, well, I might develop some expectations.  Not just for the reunion that never happened (at least not until a later show at the Casbah in San Diego, which I should have anticipated, Hot Snakes being from there), but for the new bands too.  Obits completely delivered, despite quickly foiling any attempt at keeping a set list by playing a bunch of new material; the Night Marchers, not so much.

Obits first: combining lead singer Rick Froberg's noise punk tendencies with extra melody, intentionally old-sounding production and some rockabilly and surf guitar, Obits put out one of the best albums of last year in I Blame You, along with two awesome non-album singles.  Unfortunately, they didn't play much of those songs on this night, only offering up "Widow of My Dreams," "Fake Kinkade," "Two-Headed Coin" and "SUD" among the twelve or so they played.  However, the new songs all sounded great, and the band played well.  Rick's voice sounded great, and other guitarist Sohrab Habibion (whom is very interactive on the band's Facebook page; click through to read his amusing response to my comments about the Hot Snakes mini reunion) put on a subtle show while also singing a killer new song.  I was in already, but now I'm really eager to hear some more recordings from these guys.

The Night Marchers, on the other hand, had some problems.  Or at least, I felt like they did.  They're a tight band, so the actual playing was top notch as usual, but lead singer Speedo seemed to be in a bad mood, and he spent long interludes between songs rambling about weird stuff.  Look, of all the bands associated with he and Froberg (Drive Like Jehu, Pitchfork and The Sultans, in addition to Hot Snakes), the Speedo-fronted Rocket from the Crypt is easily my favorite, and part of what made them so much fun to see was his irreverent humor and enthusiasm.  I've seen him perform somewhere around twenty times, so I know and love what he does, but on this night he just pushed it too far and killed the momentum of an otherwise strong set, one full of new songs that sounded like an improvement over the debut album, See You in Magic.  And I'll never complain about hearing "Scene Report," "Jump in the Fire" or "Closed for Inventory."  On this night, though, Obits was the better band.  And there's no shame in that.

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