It was probably close to two years ago that The Star Bar started
a practice of letting one band control their Wednesday night
lineup for an entire month. Originally, bands tended to use
this sequence of shows for two primary reasons:
- To perform newer songs in a controlled environment while
they worked the kinks out.
- To give related (or friendly) bands a chance to perform.
If I remember correctly, back at the beginning, these shows
were really inexpensive: something like $1 or $2. Anyway, considering
they're still doing it, I guess it was a success for The Star
Bar; it was also a lot of fun to see mostly local bands that
you may not get a chance to see often. Still, since I've had
a regular day job, it's gotten a lot harder for me to attend
weeknight concerts. As a result, this show was the first Wednesday
Star Bar show in a while.
The first band, 1945, has been on my local "to-see" list for
a while; I didn't know much about them except they are from
Birmingham, signed to Daemon records, and described as doing
"Pavement-like" music. While these first two items are apparently
correct, I would suggest that their music has no Pavement in
it. Instead they reminded me more of an early Verbena: strong
power chords, rock style drumming, and non-harmonizing male
and female vocals. That's not necessarily a bad thing, although
the mix at The Star Bar really seemed to draw out the sometimes
discordant vocals. Otherwise, they weren't particularly noteworthy.
From their overall style, I suspect they're a band I could like;
at any rate, I'd like to see them again to see if a different
evening might change my mind.
In keeping with the new band theme, Crybaby (the host of the
evening) was next. Yes, I've seen them before,
but it's been a few months and, rumor had it, their sound had
evolved over time. Whatever has happened with this band, I think
the overall effect is a good one. Previously, it seemed like
there was a musical struggle going on between the classically-trained
vocalist and the more punk-minded musicians. On this evening,
however, there was distinctly less discontinuity between these
elements. The vocals still soared, but the underlying music
was louder and rocked harder. Instead of meandering around,
everything seemed propelled forward by a strong beat. It was
a solid impressive performance; I look forward to catching them
again in the future.
Unsurprisingly, I've only seen the headliner, Casionova, one
time before. However, it feels like more than that, considering
that they share a song catalog and 3 of 5 members with American
Dream (who I've seen many times). From what I remembered,
this band had a strong guitar/bass interaction with an underlying
New Wave emphasis on keyboards and dance beats.
After a couple of songs, I realized that my memories were indeed
correct. They rocked through some songs which had David Railey's
trademark melancholy vocals; however the mood was lifted by
upbeat tunes and the very 1980s electric drums (which were a
little goofy, but well done nevertheless). Furthermore, they
performed one of my favorite recent songs; called Robert
Mitchum, it's a catchy little tune (with stand out keyboard
work from Renee Nelson) that always makes me want to dance.
On the downside, the drummer shook the maracas a bit much and
yes, at times the performance wasn't as tight as I might hope.
And the relative shortness of the performance reminded me that
this band's catalog isn't too deep. But if the music's good
and the band's enjoying themselves, how can you be too critical?
It was fun and the final number - an instrumental dance tune
- suggested that this wasn't a show to be taken too seriously.
In the end, I guess that was the underlying theme of the show:
three bands getting up and having fun in front of a small (but
appreciative) audience. And, now that I think about, I suppose
that was always the main goal of those Star Bar Wednesday nights.