My weekend was dominated by my parents’ 50th anniversary, a joyous occasion that kept me out of the bars Saturday and Sunday night. I did get out to Sokol Underground Friday night for Cap Gun Coup, Baby Walrus and Whatever Happened to the Dinosaurs?
The highlight was Baby Walrus, a trio featuring a drummer and two guitarists — with the frontman switching between guitar and keyboards. The guy sounded like a young Jim Morrison, especially on songs that had that weird Doors wonky flair. Their music was brash and bluesy and intricate bordering on experimental. They’re one of the best new bands I’ve seen so far in ’07.
Friday was Whatever Happened to the Dinosaurs?’ debut at Sokol, and you could tell. One funny comment from someone in the crowd: “They sound more like a Bright Eyes rip-off than An Angle.” There were definitely plenty of Conor-isms to go around, but like An Angle, WHD? also doesn’t have anything resembling Oberst’s songwriting chops. I’m told all the band members are transplants from Florida who made the trip to be near Nebraska’s burgeoning indie scene (or to be closer to Conor, whom I’m told they adore). Take the Bright Eyes adoration out of the equation and they come off as a very young band with a slightly skewed vision, which may or may not be misguided. With their preening frontman and stable of prancing musicians, they were more precious than Tilly and the Wall and would probably be eaten alive at rough-house bar like The 49’r. By the end of their set they exceeded their cuteness quotient when I noticed a young girl — maybe 17 — sitting on the floor next to the bass drum. Just sitting there, smiling like a stage prop.
Finally there was Cap Gun Coup, who I really came to see. I was told by someone who has heard them before that it wasn’t their finest moment. The set was sloppy and out of sync, and I have to wonder if it wasn’t just an off night. That said, the crowd of around 80 didn’t seem to mind. In fact, the whole evening had a house party feel to it and you could tell that the crowd consisted mostly of friends having a good time. Nothing wrong with that.
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