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  PEELANDER-Z w/ Bang! Bang! and The Love Drunks  
  The EARL  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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The evening started with less of a bang than perhaps was anticipated. On my way to this show, as I drove past my neighborhood's ubiquitous scary convenience store, I noticed a van with a trailer stopped outside. This was something of a surprise, considering the relatively late hour. "Hmmm," I thought. "That looks like a band. But it's awfully late, so it must be someone moving or something."

When I got to The EARL, I mentioned to the booking agent that I was really looking forward to hearing Illinois-based band Bang! Bang! live, as I was rather impressed by their recorded sound. He shook his head and then sadly informed me that the band had not shown up as of yet. "I bet I know where they are!" I exclaimed. "They'll be here in 5 minutes" Lo and behold, when they did indeed show up in short form, I immediately recognized one of the members from that afore-mentioned convenience store.

After that minor musical scare, the evening picked up when Atlanta's The Love Drunks took the stage. I have seen The Love Drunks numerous times, at various venues. I like them, and think they usually put on a very energetic, if occasionally sloppy, show. On this evening, the band kicked it up a notch, both in terms of performance as well as musicianship. Maybe it was sound mix of The EARL, which inherently enhanced the reverb and echo of the band, or maybe it was the presence of their talented new drummer, Ryan, but either way, they easily put on the best set I've ever seen by them.

So what do The Love Drunks sound like? With the antics of frontman Patrick, the obvious comparison is early Stooges. However, I always hear a hint of psychobilly combined with a touch of old school garage punk (think some of the bands you might hear on the Nuggets collection). However you want to characterize it, The Love Drunks have an amazingly good rhythm section which is enhanced by an echoey and almost primitive guitar. I've heard that this band is recording and, based on this performance, I look forward to seeing whether or not they can capture their live energy.

Then, the three piece Bang! Bang! took the stage. I've heard one of their EPs and enjoyed it, but I was totally unprepared for frenetic musical assault of their live show. Loud and fast, Bang! Bang! apparently are purveyors of electro-clash. Although I'm not sure how to define that sub-genre, I would suggest that it's guitar heavy music that makes you want to dance and shimmy.

In my case, I started their set towards the back of the club. But as the performance progressed, I slowly inched my way forward, drawn by some compulsion to get closer to the stage and closer to this incredible music. In my head, I was drawn back to the first and only time I saw the late Austin band, The Kiss Offs. Bang! Bang! have the same overwhelming energy combined with male/female call and response vocals. In fact, all they really needed were flashpots and a drumkit on fire, and I think the comparison would be complete. In a local sense, Bang! Bang! is also reminiscent of The Close, if only for the fact that they both play rocking dance music, which draws you in despite yourself. All I know is that, after seeing this band live, I suspect my appreciation of their EP, Electric Sex, is bound to increase.

And then, as the club filled up, Japanese band Peelander-Z took the stage. Now, I'm probably not the best judge of this band. In general, I'm not particularly fond of Japanese rock, and I don't find the omnipresent quirkiness of most Japanese rock bands appealing. However, I will say that Peelander-Z certainly had fans, and they seemed totally into the show.

On the other hand, after the guitar-focused assault of the previous two bands, I found Peelander-Z's bass heavy, almost Sabbath-esque sound a bit overwhelming. And after the crispiness of the earlier sound mix, this band's mix seemed a little muddy and very very loud. Still, they certainly know how to involve their audience and again, the crowd enjoyed it and begged for more.

In the end, this was a great show. I remain more and more impressed by the musical growth and maturation displayed by The Love Drunks. Bang! Bang! more than exceeded my expectations. And, while Peelander-Z wasn't my favorite act, you have to respect their ability and showmanship. Now, in retrospect, all we need to work on is getting bands to The EARL without getting lost.

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