Live Review: Weatherbox, Brad Hoshaw & the 7 Deadlies, The Photo Atlas (and they all play again tonight)…

Category: Blog — @ 10:53 pm February 15, 2010

I missed Ladyfinger at O’Leaver’s Friday night. I’m told they slayed. If you don’t already know, Dan Brennan is the band’s new member, which means you’re going to have to wait a few months to see him play in this capacity again as he’ll be out on the road with Cursive through the first week of April.

I didn’t miss the trifecta of bands at O’Leaver’s Saturday night, however. The out-of-towners, Weatherbox opened the night with former Omahan Landon Hedges swinging a big ol’ bass from his childlike shoulders, looking like he was having the time of his life, while a couple of his Little Brazil bandmates looked on with pride. Live, the Criteria/Cursive comparisons are justified, even moreso as the band didn’t play any of the slower, mellow stuff off the last full-length. Instead it was a lesson in angular-indie — a compound modifier that still doesn’t mean anything, but somehow fits this category of music. Hedges remains a formidable bassist, lest we forget that he slung one way back in his Desaparecidos days; he didn’t seem to mind letting someone else handle the frontman chores.

On paper, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies were a strange fit, sandwiched between two hi-energy post-punk bands. And maybe they were, but their style provided a nice respite in the middle of all the angst. Hoshaw rolled out at least one brand new song and a couple that I didn’t recognize, providing proof that there’s more on the way as good — or better — than what we got on his debut. I even got a shout-out before their last song — set staple “Powdernose,” which is a lesson in rock dynamics, as loud as a gang fight one moment, drunk and alone the next. Hoshaw and his clan certainly broke a few hearts on that Valentine’s Eve.

Finally, there was The Photo Atlas, who just played at O’Leaver’s last April, when I described them as “twitch-dance-rock that reminded me of The Rapture, sort of… shiny post-punk with an ever-present dance beat beneath everything all the time,” and “the kind of band that a label could turn into something huge, at least with 15-year-old girls.” The description still stands, but Saturday night they had all the boys in the house climbing all over each other in some sort of man-love rock ritual, trying to get to frontman Alan Andrews and too often succeeding. Their style is as direct and in-your-face as At The Drive-in during that band’s heyday — the only thing missing are the Afros. Andrews and Co. do just fine with their current hairdos, and make up for any deficit with shear exuberance (and sweat). Their Myspace page says that they’re still unsigned, which seems hard to believe, especially when they have a journalist following them around writing a book about their tour (or so I’m told).

Don’t believe me? You can check out all three bands tonight at The Sydney for free. That’s right, all three bands are playing a free repeat show before Landon and his crew head out for the next leg of the Weatherbox tour, which runs through the end of March. For those of us who were there Saturday, it’s worth going just to see if The Sydney can pull off the same vibe that O’Leaver’s had — there’s just something about the tiny bar on Saddle Creek Rd. that brings out the best in bands despite its lack of stage, no lights and an amateur-quality PA. In a town with two world-class music venues that have invested thousands (and in Slowdown’s case, millions) to maintain the highest standard of live performance excellence, O’Leaver’s remains my favorite place to see a live band.

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