Live Review: Saturday night at O’Leaver’s…

Category: Blog — @ 6:46 pm November 12, 2007

I didn’t get rolling until 10 on Saturday, so it came down to: 1) I’ve never liked Trail of Dead, 2) That Nirvana Tribute will be packed/require waiting in line to get in, 3) that touring band at SCB probably already played (as SCB has touring bands open so as not to get Omaha’d). That left The Rayguns/Sleep Said the Monster at O’Leaver’s, which is where I intended to go in the first place, specifically to see the Rayguns. I got there just in time for their last song — a Jazz Odyssey-style noise symphony that reveled in its own improvisational excess. I’m told it wasn’t a typical Rayguns’ song, and made a note to make sure I get to The Waiting Room early on Nov. 30 when they open for McCarthy Trenching.

Reagan and friends were followed by Nashville band Happy Birthday Amy, a four-piece fronted by a woman seated behind a keyboard. By her side, a bassist, drummer and a guy who plays a variety of horns (trumpet, trombone, other brass that I wasn’t familiar with). The music felt like indie cabaret, with leader Amy Smith belting out one rousing ballad after another, sort of like an alt-Bette Midler meets Joanne Newsom. Rocking enough where you didn’t miss the lack of electric guitar.

Sleep Said the Monster played last. A guy watching the set next to me screwed up my evening by saying, “Don’t they sound just like Coyote Bones?” I’ve seen SStM a few times and that comparison never dawned on me. Afterward, it was all I could think of, though honestly, their songwriting style is somewhat different. Coyote Bones’ songs have a stronger central melody; SStM sounds more closely married to traditional indie rock. The biggest similarity sonically comes from their keyboard arrangements; whereas similarities performance-wise come from their frontman (don’t know his name/it ain’t on their myspace) who’s stage presence is equal to or eclipse’s CB’s David Matysiak’s. SStM’s frontman pushes his music with his eyes and facial expressions — I mean, when was the last time you saw a singer’s eyes at O’Leaver’s? He sings well, too, but his performance style makes you think he’s belting it out in front of a TV camera, reaching out to those viewers watching at home. On the minus side, I can remember what SStM sounds like, but I can’t remember a single song from their set. They still need to write that song where, when you’re talking to someone about them, you can say, “They’re the guys that do that song about…” Halfway through the set, someone asked me what I thought. I passed on that Coyote Bones comment, and afterward, he told me that’s all he could think about, too. Sorry dude.

Looks like a quiet week ahead…

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