Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Big One, Elizabeth! part 2 (The Show)

The lineup for the Hi Fi concert highlighted three distinct musical styles: eclectic anti-establishment, hardcore punk, and rock.

The first band, Below Jupiter, was led by key-tickling front man Josh and drummer Chris. Yes, a two-piece band, and they pulled it off well. Josh’s piano playing is front and center for the band, and he is an outstanding performer. Chris’s drumming style fits perfectly with Josh’s performance abilities, making for a unique sound. The band’s style is hard to describe, even for the band, so they just go with “eclectic”.

Below Jupiter performed songs from their upcoming release, “Saul” as well as other concept-related pieces they have been performing for the last year. Their anti-establishment, anti-forced-religion themes came through loud and clear in their songs, especially “Political Robots”. The band and their sound were, at first, a curiosity to the crowd. However, as they continued to play, you could tell that interest in the band was growing, and the band morphed from “curiosity” into legitimate performers in the eyes of their audience. Keep an eye on these guys as they grow on the indie scene.

The second band rolled in from down the street, or so it seemed. No, wait, they really did! Dead Man’s Curve, from Lakewood, OH, came up to the stage, ready to take prisoners and name names with their no-holds-barred brand of hardcore punk. I was ready to put in my earplugs on the assumption that they would “turn it up to eleven”, but they didn’t. The sound was awesome, their music tight, and you could tell they were having a great time on stage.

This three-piece outfit – starring Jason on guitar and vocals, Mike on bass and vocals, and Dustin on drums – was “on” from the moment they hit the stage. They reminded me of 80s punk, when bands like the Misfits, Social Distortion and Suicidal Tendencies ruled the realm.

The band’s loyal audience was in full force, and showed their appreciation by whooping, hollering and singing along with the band. Dustin’s drumming was crisp, and Mike and Jason put on a great performance. Not just with their playing, but with their antics, gyrations and smirks on stage. They know what they’re doing, and they know how to do it. For all the new fans that bought DMC t-shirts at the gigs, DMC also threw in their demo CD. Awesome!

(Rumor has it a big-time punk band asked Dead Man’s Curve to open for them when they come into Cleveland. Let’s hope DMC gets the props they deserve and are able to do the show.)

As the witching hour approached, it was time for the headliners to take the stage. It had been three years since Pauly left Cleveland to pursue his dream in L.A., and he looks like a good fit with his band mates in Elegantly Wasted – Lenny J. on guitar and vocals, Queen D. (Diana) on guitar and vocals, and guest bassist/vocalist Fred. They have a good chemistry on and off stage, and have similar tastes in music. Can they find that label that understands their talents and sound, the one that would market them so the rest of the world would know what the folks in L.A., Cleveland and Europe already know? Let’s hope so.

EW did not disappoint. They started the night with “Sickhead”, the first song off their new CD, “Desolation Row”, and played most of the songs off that CD. They also threw in a three songs from their first release, “Greetings from a Strange Place”. (You can hear samples of all of their available songs at

The show sounded like their earlier rehearsal: crisp, fun, and engaging. Lenny J. had a great rapport with the audience. The gestures and facial expressions he makes while he’s singing help convey the emotion and meaning behind the songs, and draw you into the performance. Diana kicked butt on guitar; she is calm and cool on stage, a great compliment to Lenny’s performance style. Fred and Pauly not only keep the bass and beat going strong, but are two of the most energetic performers I’ve seen in a while. They exemplify chaos under control.

The band threw in a couple curve balls by playing their renditions of “Ring of Fire” and "Rockin’ in a Free World”. They also covered a Bob Dylan tune, but I hope someone comes to my rescue by telling me the name of it.

Since this was Pauly’s homecoming, the band let him have a little fun with his family, friends and co-workers, and begrudgingly (I’m sure) let him own the mic while he rapped all the lines to Beastie Boys anthem “Fight for Your Right”. Before that, though, Pauly had a big surprise for a very important member of the audience. A friend of his and his brother joined the band onstage to play a special rendition of “Tonight, It’s You” by Cheap Trick. The song was dedicated to Pauly’s girlfriend, Brittany, who flew in with her sister, Erin, to see the show. Little did Brittany know the surprise waiting for her at the end of the tune: an engagement ring and a marriage proposal. She was probably the only surprised person in the club, but she said what we all expected her to say: yes. Good times all around!

After Pauly and Brittany had a couple minutes to collect themselves, the band played another cover tune with their friend, Trevor, playing bass, and finished the set with their smoking-hot song, “Too Much, Too Soon”. (A should-be classic, imho.) For an encore, they played “Rockin’ in a Free World”, with a great guitar call and response segment between Lenny and Diana that was a pleasure to watch and hear.

When the show ended, they were all spent, er, I mean “wasted”. They had given the audience their all, and were taking a well deserved break before taking down their equipment. They were readily available after the show, and talked freely to everyone who approached them. Rock stars? Yes, talent wise, but without any of the annoying attitude. It was great to see.

These guys are excellent performers. I could have watched any one of them all night. They all bring different styles to the table, and have different ways of showing off their talents. To watch them do it together, and blend they way they did, was a treat. I wish them all the best, and hope to see them perform again soon.

(cross-posted at my myspace blog)

Disclaimer: Show review does not indicate agreement with some song lyrics or themes.

1 comment:

Emily said...

You havent seen "energetic" 'til you've seen William Beckett from The Academy Is perform :P
He jumps all over the place and stuff its crazy...

but thats cool, sounds like you had fun :)