Interview: Tokyo Police Club; Live Review: Spinto/Rilo Kiley; Swervedriver tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:58 pm May 22, 2008

Just posted, an interview with Tokyo Police Club’s Greg Alsop, wherein Greg talks about how the band found Saddle Creek Records — or more accurately, how Saddle Creek found them — and why a bunch of Canada natives would sign with a label headquartered in Omaha Nebraska. Read it here.

The only question that didn’t make it into the story: How does it feel to be the label’s sole dance band now that The Faint have jumped ship? It was the first time Alsop had heard the news. “Really?” he asked. “I don’t know if we’re a dance band like The Faint were. I consider our music more pop with a groove. It’s so weird that people want to peg the word ‘dance’ in front of every genre — dance pop , dance punk. We’re not really a dance band. We don’t use stereotypical dance beats. But if people can move their body in rhythm to our music, that’s great.”

I can see where Alsop is coming from — TPC doesn’t sound like a dance band to me, either. But that hasn’t stopped a cadre of critics to proclaim them a “dance punk” band. The good news is that the rep comes as a result of the audience reaction at their live shows. TPC gets the kids jumping, and that’s something any band would be proud of.

I’m told there are still plenty of tickets available for Friday night’s TPC show at Slowdown, though you’ll save a couple bucks if you pick them up today (instead of tomorrow).

* * *

Speaking of shows at Slowdown…

I arrived last night at around 9:35 and expected to find a queue draped around the corner to get inside, what with the new age-verification permission-slip policy in place. Figured there would be someone carefully making sure that the youngsters had their papers in order. But the line was only about a dozen people deep and moved quickly. The original plan was — and is — for Slowdown to have a computer set up for quick database verification. But a simple print-out is really all they need this early in the game. Permission slip numbers at Slowdown have gone from nine to 90 in the past couple of weeks, and will only continue to grow as the venue books more shows that attract an all-ages audience, like Rilo Kiley.

I got in last night on Nik Freitas’ list, and ironically, missed almost his entire set, which I’m told began at the stroke of 9 o’clock. I did catch the last couple songs, and they were nice, mid-tempo songwriter-driven rock. I got a copy of Freitas’ new Team Love album about a month ago, and initially didn’t think much of it, but recently rediscovered it and it’s grown on me. It’s smart, catchy middle-of-the-road indie music.

The Spinto Band was next. How to describe them? Think back to the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, the one where the Peanuts gang puts on a Christmas play. Remember that scene where everyone’s on stage, grooving to the Peanuts theme — each character with his or her own specific dance move? That’s exactly what Spinto Band looks like when they perform — six guys each bouncing around to the music in his own unique style. Very energetic, very entertaining to watch. The music, well, not so interesting. The band consists of three guitars, a bass, keyboards and drums, and for one song — which just happened to be their best song — kazoos. That specific song opened with an up-tempo instrumental version of Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” before segueing into the kazoo-rock anthem. It was their best moment because the song held the strongest central melody (It would have been even better without the cheesy kazoos). For the most part, Spinto played wonky indie spazz rock that meandered like underage prog on too many Red Bulls. Some of the music kind of reminded me of Weezer, but not really. They also don’t really sound Elvis Costello, but I’m becoming convinced that Elvis has become the most influential songwriter to this new generation of indie spazz rock bands. Certainly the melodies and the keyboard parts, as well as the intricate lyrics, sound influenced by early E and the Attractions.

After their set, I got a chance to focus on the capacity crowd. Rilo Kiley’s fan base certainly has changed since seeing them down at Sokol Underground back when they were still on Saddle Creek Records. Gone is the preponderance of bad-haired hipsters and urban punks, replaced by clean-cut suburbanites and Creighton students. More than 75 percent of the crowd was women. Rilo apparently has defined itself as a female-friendly band that guys don’t mind going to see (if only to gawk at Jenny Lewis).

The band took the stage a little after 11 and proceeded to get all the new, geeky dance stuff from their last album out of the way. It wasn’t until later in the set — when the focus shifted to older material — that the crowd really came alive. Lewis and ex-boyfriend Blake Sennett make an interesting pair. They could be this generation’s Buckingham Nicks, and certainly Sennett’s songs emulate Lindsey’s (right down to the hushed vocals and guitar tone). With their television background, they could also be the new Sonny & Cher. The common thread that runs between both examples is how the woman dominated the team — Stevie and Cher were the show, Lindsey and Sonny were the sidemen. That holds true for Rilo Kiley as well. They sound good together, but it’s really Lewis that people come to see. In the end, it probably won’t matter. One guy I talked to last night said he thought Under the Blacklight was Rilo’s swan song. After this tour, Lewis will focus on the follow-up to Rabbit Fur Coat, while Sennett will go back to The Elected, and eventually Rilo Kiley will fade away much like Azure Ray did years ago…

Overall, it was a better show than their last concert at Sokol Auditorium. With Slowdown’s stage going right up to the audience, Lewis was able to feed off the crowd of adoring female fans, many of whom sang along with her all night.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, Swervedriver with The Life and Times and Mr. Gnome. Blogger and radio host Dave Leibowitz is a huge Swervedriver fan, and recently did a podcast with frontman Adam Franklin, which is a good primer before heading down to the show. Check it out here. $15, 9 p.m.

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