Let me just say that,
going into this show, i was slightly sick. Well, not ill really,
but fighting both a cold and the Holiday Blues. Although it
was good to get out of the house in a non-family social situation,
i wasn't really in the mood for the pretension and posing of
Va-High. So maybe that coloured my view of this show.
Anyway, the first act was Dodd Ferrelle and the Tinfoil Stars.
We had last seen this Athens-based roots rock act over
a year ago, and both Tracers and i were curious to see how
they had developed. The last time we saw them, Tracers pointed
out that she thought Mr. Ferrelle sounded kind of like John
Doe. The comparison that sprung to my mind is late-era (circa
You probably don't remember The Rave-ups. They were one of
the large number of "roots rock" bands that toured
our nation in the late 80's. Other acts i would lump in with
them include Scruffy The Cat, The Del-Fuegos, and The Bodeans.
Roots rock was a style that combined blues with a slight "country"
element. It was the precursor to both the Americana scene and
the alt.country scene. I was really into this stuff back in
Dodd Ferrelle and the Tinfoil Stars play classic roots rock.
There is not enough twang there to really be considered country,
and the guitar riffs are more classic rock than anything else.
However, the rhythm section is really strong: it shows the blues
influence. The bassist and the drummer both played seemingly
straightforward parts, but they provided a strong underpinning
to Ferrelle's songs.
Ferrelle himself is the real star of the band, and i mean aside
from the fact that his name is in the band's title. Ferrelle's
voice is rich and slightly gravelly. Tracers' comparison to
a young John Doe (before all the cigarettes hardened his voice)
is a good comparison, but to bring us back to The Rave-ups,
his ability to sustain notes in the upper register reminds me
of lead Rave-up Jimmy Podrasky. Both of them are able to hit
high notes without seeming to descend into falsetto. This is
a good thing.
My insistance on comparing this band to The Rave-ups might
be due to my adoration for that band. I haven't listened to
Town + Country in years, but i dragged
it out to listen to while writing this review. Or my instance
might be due to a need to classify The Tinfoil Stars. Either
way, i am going to stand by my comparison. And being compared
to The Rave-ups is a good thing, really.
If i had heard Dodd Ferrelle and the Tinfoil Stars 12 years
ago, i would have loved them. However, since then i have moved
on. Still, it's good to hear the sounds from another era. And
even though they do nothing really new, The Tinfoil Stars do
it solidly and with confidence. For all you alt.country and
Americana fans out there: check these people out. I think you'll
Their performance tonight was very solid, and seeing it made
me glad i had dragged myself out. The next band, however, was
to make me rethink that poistion.
Billed as "Expenisve Noise", the band opened with
a song obviously titled just that. Then they went on about how
they had finally decided to keep their original name of The
Ludovico Technique. Good for them.
The Ludovico Technique are a seemingly older band. That is,
all of the members appeared to be in their late 20's. Unusual
for a band just starting out. However, they way they talked
led me to believe that they are all refugees from other bands.
And their drummer appeared to be none other than ex-Changeling
Chandler Rentz. Personally, i adore his drumming. He plays
tom-heavy intricate rhythms, and having the chance to see him
perform was an added bonus.
However, the band refused to let him cut loose. Their sound
is a sort of fusion of Radiohead and Weezer: an obvious nod
towards the Brit-pop sound of the mid-90's with even more power
chords thrown in.
I'll admit that at first i was intrigued. Then they tried to
sing a "political song", i don't even remember what
it was supposed to be about. However, on this tune the weakness
of the vocals was emphasized and the strength of the music buried.
Some people just don't need to write deep, meaningful things.
Some people should just stick to ignorable fluff. I felt this
way while sitting through this song.
In fact, after that the band just never really jelled again
for me. Their arrangements seemed derivative and "radio-friendly:,
and i found myself bored and wishing for the warmth of bed and
One interesting note: the second to last song they did was
introduced as "For Joe". Joe of course meaning the
recently deceased punk icon Joe Strommer. With this intro, the
band proceeded to attempt to cover Straight To Hell,
one of my all-time favorite tunes. The singer screwed up the
lyrics (starting with verse 2, and forgetting verse 3 midway
through), but the music here was the most interesting they did.
The guitars were played through tons of echo and phase, chiming
throughout the club in a lovely manner. Rentz's drumming style
is also well-suited to the deep, sparse rhythm of this tune,
and on the whole it worked for me. It was a nice effort, but
next time try and get the lyrics together.....
In general i was not overly impressed with this act. I found
them boring, honestly. Still, they did manage to drag indie
scenesters into Va-High, so that's something. In all fairness,
they were suffering from technical difficulties with their keyboard,
so perhaps the added complexity of a keyboard melody would have
aided their songs. I don't know though, and will have to reserve
Finally, 5-8 started to play. Have i mentioned lately how amazing
this band is live? 5-8 are a pop-punk power trio, and they do
it very well. Again, they are not an innovative band, but they
are amazingly competent. All three members really know their
stuff, and singer Mike Manitone shines as a ball of pent up
fury flailing away, breakdancing, and screaming.
Tonight the band did a sort of "best of" set, hitting
crowd-pleasing favorites off of all their albums. It was a fun,
solid set, and like all 5-8 shows, was thoroughly enjoyable.
However, by that point we were tired, and so we headed home
before they started their encore. Still, i would recommend a
5-8 show to anyone who wants to see a talented band play energetic,
On the whole, this was a decent night. Not remarkble, but not