When you decide to go see a show just hours before it starts, not really knowing anything about the music, it is a different kind of experience from one where you specifically seek out a band. You have no expectations, you’re not waiting for that song you love, anticipating the first familiar bars, ready to show the rest of the crowd your knowledge of the chorus lyrics, or that amazing guitar riff, or that unexpected tempo shift which you deftly demonstrate with air drumming breaks. As if by demonstrating to your fellow concert goers your deserving place in the crowd because you’ve done the musical homework and you have that privileged knowledge of being a fan before anybody else. There’s less pressure to be a body in the crowd, less of a sense that you are there for a purpose, to experience the beginning, middle and end of a set. One song then another then a shot at the bar and a smoke outside and another beer and enjoy your night as you see fit. Having a good time is less dependent on who’s rocking the stage.
I went to La Vitrola with that exact mindset: I didn’t know the bands, I didn’t plan on reviewing them, I was going there to hang out with some friends. Luckily, I ended up having a great time and so I decided to write about my night and thus, unconventionally review the show.
It was the first time in along while I was back at the Spanish Social Club’s venue. Drinks were cheap, the AC was sufficient, and the sound mixing was dead on. They also had free jugs of iced water for all, which was refreshing, literally. There, now that’s some good-concert review-speak.
Because I was too focused on being an unexpectant set of eyes and ears in the crowd, I never bothered to make real mental review notes of each individual band. So I thought I’d switch it up, ask some friends for thoughts/memories (italicized) of the bands, and add my notes to theirs.
KURVI TASCH – The room was a little empty, you (meaning: me, this reviewer) and our other friend really liked the band, I (meaning: her) thought every song sounded a little alike. They had talent, yes, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.
I did remember digging this trio, simple sound, the singer knew how to work the microphone, kind of a slower driving version of second wave punk without the British intelligence associated with the genre. One song ended in a kind of anthem chant which I could imagine being hummed by stadiums in an alternative universe where this kind of music is fun for the whole family.
HOLY DATA – I liked this band. The keyboardist, (the blond one with long hair) had lots of stage presence. The sounds were more psychedelic than the first band, which I like. The crowd was also a bit more into it, due in part because the band was quite engaging. Which I like.
Were these guys taking the piss by pretending they were British? Am I pretending I am British by using expressions like “take the piss”? Yes, there were synths, but managed to not be too “synthy.” These guys should play the birthday parties of the hippest fucking teens in the world. They were great.
CTZNSHP – Opened up their set with “Heartbreak Kids” and it was great. Crowd was into it, dancing. They were 5 (they are usually 3) and it seemed to fit well! They are solid, on stage and with their music.
I remember the singer, mostly. He seemed to know all about how to be a great singer. He had a voice, a vibe and a look that could have gone mainstream. In fact, I remember telling someone in the crowd that I wasn’t sure if they were supposed to be mainstream. I can see these guys making it. Whatever that means.
And this brings me back to my initial musings about seeing bands you like versus just getting out to a rock show. Once you get over believing that a band should play songs just to please the crowd, or that a concert is a venue for a hit single before it goes viral and gets sold to car or mobile phone advertisements, the pressure disappears to have something intelligent or original to say about the band. There is no more gut-reaction to having an opinion, or proving you liked them before everybody else. You could get drunk (I did), dance like fool (I might have), and chat and flirt with everyone else in the crowd (if I did and I was inappropriate I am sorry). The thing is, when you’re called upon the next day to share and opine on your night, well, you better have good friends who could supply you with the missing details.
CTZNSHP with opening bands Holy Data and Kurvi Tasch played Saturday night at La Vitrola, with in-between tunes supplied by DJ Bain Magique.