Weekend Update: Live Review: The Life and Times, Little Brazil; Speed! Vanderslice tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 4:04 pm May 30, 2009

Yes, this is a rare Weekend Update on Lazy-i. There’s too much stuff going on this weekend, and I don’t want to smash it all into one blog post on Monday. We have Vanderslice tonight and singer-songwriters tomorrow, but I’ll get to that (again) in good time.

This was my first time experiencing a live rock show at The Sydney (ex-Micks). I’d been warned by a number of people that despite lowering the stage to near floor level from Mick’s ridiculously high perch that the room still sounded like a noisy ball of shit. Ah, but the crowd last night was mostly full of tough guys that embrace such dissonance. It was the first time in a long time that someone pulled a “Nice earplugs” barb at me. I just smiled and adjusted my foam nubs — I knew I’d get the last laugh.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like the laidback feel of The Sydney. The room just has a good, friendly drinking vibe to it now that it didn’t have before. The folks running the place are super nice; everyone seems to be in a good mood — what a concept! (Everyone seems to be in a good mood at O’Leaver’s every night, too, but that’s because they all seem to be lost in a NyQuil daze after mainlining Rumplemintz since 4 in the afternoon).

When you went to Mick’s to see a show, you very likely were sitting down somewhere. If not, you were trapped in the crawlspace by the door, probably in someone’s way but still able to see the band on the crazy-high stage. At The Sydney, the tables play a secondary role. There’s plenty of space near the pseudo-stage, which is so low to the ground as to encourage you to get off your ass and stand up there next to the band and soak in the full force of whatever’s going on. I have to assume that the bands prefer this over towering above — and being separated from — everyone in the crowd.

Kansas City’s The Life and Times — the night’s opener, who went on at around 10:30 — certainly seemed to dig it. A classic rock trio — guitar/bass/drums — I’d heard they had a “showgazer vibe.” Not to me. From the opening song I was reminded again and again of classic ’90s Chicago Matador band Chavez — from their mathy compositions to the slurring, rising vocal lines that ironically countered the machine-gun-firecracker drums and counter-melody bass lines. The frontman’s voice even sounded sort of like Matt Sweeney’s. And don’t get me wrong — you’re not likely to find a bigger Chavez fan in any crowd, and these guys stylistically hit the mark. Here’s an action photo.

Was it loud. Oh yeah. I saw a few fans up front doing the classic fingers-in-the-ears pose. I found the comedian who mocked my earplugs hiding in the back. Silly rabbit — everyone knows that there’s nowhere to hide from the noise in Mick’s/Sydney — it’s as if you’re trapped in a gigantic whispering arch, the sound is as loud in back of the room as it is up front. That said, I thought the dynamics were just fine (and even better for Little Brazil, who themselves had more dynamic range in their set). I can see why TL&Ts is generating a following around Omaha. They have a powerful, melodic sound, and when they stray from their Chavez/Sunny Day-esque formula, they really “shine” (get it?).

Little Brazil came on at about a quarter to midnight. I was wondering how they were going to fit onto the stage when TL&T barely could get all three members on the platform. The answer: They didn’t. Guitarist Greg Edds set up his pedals and stood off the corner of the stage. I don’t see a solution for this as there just isn’t any room for expanding the stage. (See photo). If you’re a four-piece (or larger) someone’s going to be playing on the floor. Edds didn’t seem to mind (or care) — he just stood off in the dark and did his thing. Instrumentally, Little Brazil sounded spot on, if not a bit more majestic than usual (they pulled out a Tighten the Noose song that sounded fresher than ever, tucked into a set of songs from LB’s most recent album, Son). Vocally, Landon Hedges sounded a bit tired and complained of having a tough time catching his breath, even asking if it as possible to develop adult asthma. Someone in the crowd yelled, “Quit smoking” and he responded with “I don’t smoke that much, I only smoke when I drink,” to which the voice in the crowd replied “Yeah, but you drink all the time.” That said, neither Landon nor the band clearly were loaded last night. Maybe after playing the same songs for months, they just need a break. Too bad they won’t get one. Word is they’ll be heading out on tour later this summer — and they need to, as that record was charting pretty well on CMJ last I looked.

* * *

OK, as I mentioned yesterday, tonight is John Vanderslice down at Slowdown Jr. with Skypiper. I have a funny feeling that this $10 show will be near capacity. You may want to get your tickets early. Also tonight, the Speed! Nebraska caravan rolls into O’Leaver’s with Wagon Blasters, The Third Men and Ideal Cleaners. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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