March 6, 2007

Noise Pop: “I’m nervous when I’m near you, as if I have fallen ill”

Saturday night at the Rickshaw Stop was a beyond-sold-out affair of tightly wound and very playful tunes. The club is smaller than some yuppies’ garages, all draped in red velvet fabric and strung up with globe lights with a stage barely elevated above the heads of the voluminous crowd. The indie kids turned out full force in their Vans, leggings, chunky glasses and skinny jeans, ready to dance. Featuring sets by The Old-Fashioned Way, The Changes, Dios (Malos) and capped by The Spinto Band, this was one show I was most excited about at Noise Pop. I was not disappointed.

The Old-Fashioned Way opened with an enjoyable set, and had the quirky dork-rock vibe down to a T. Their music was multi-instrumental and lighthearted. I jotted in my little notebook (yes, I took notes. With so many shows, my memory ain’t what it used to be) that they sounded a bit like the rumbly baritone of Nick Cave meets the playful music and harmonies of Mates of State. There were seven members packing the tiny stage, with most of the girls in frocks that looked handmade and a frontman that defied typical lead-singer stereotypes.

Before the set by The Changes, I was flagged down by Noise Pop photographer Peter Ellenby, whose work I’ve written about here. He asked me to photograph the next set for him and handed over his camera.

I was a rock photographer for a spell, and was ridiculously excited, as that is a job I have long thought would be so interesting and cool. I perched atop a piano by the stage and happily started clicking. If only I had known better how to operate all the bells and whistles on the camera, I could have possibly done some neat things, but as it was I told Peter that I’d be happy if even one or two shots turned out worth keeping. I was so thrilled to get to try.

The music from Chicago’s The Changes is infectiously good power-pop with hummable choruses and jangly guitars. I am expecting their album Today Is Tonight in the mail shortly, which was recorded at the same Chicago studio as The Redwalls. I hear a little bit of similarities in the vibe of the two bands, and I am looking forward to enjoying the entire album.

VIDEO: The Changes, “Water Of The Gods

I was expecting a lot from Dios (Malos). They’d performed an acoustic set earlier in the day at the Noise Pop Expo, which I heard was amazing, and I’ve heartily liked all the studio material I’ve spun from them. They took the stage illuminated only by a garage-variety shoplight behind them, which lent the set an eerie backlit vibe and cast monstrous shadows (which were fun to watch).

Their performance was good but unfortunately not great, with the flow often interrupted by friends of theirs climbing on stage, or discussion about what to play next. I selfishly wished they had been a little tighter as they ripped through their set because they really are a quality band (with an animated drummer that I adore). Check his entirely translucent blue drumset:

VIDEO: Dios Malos

Spinto Band
finally took the stage around 11:30, and they were jittery and spastic and insane. Made me nervous just to watch them, but in a good way, as if the stage could barely constrain their need-Ritalin exuberance. As they set up their instruments, I felt like we were preparing for a high-school battle of the bands, but despite their unassuming and freshfaced looks, these kids have all the pieces in order and definitely know how to rock a crowd.

They launched straight into “Crack The Whip” which is my favorite song off their excellent 2006 album Nice and Nicely Done, and it was all pleasantly upbeat sailing from there. Check this video from later in their set:

VIDEO: Spinto Band

I’d shell out to see each of these bands again, they were awesome. What a night.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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