Live Review: Icky Blossoms, David Nance and Mowed Sound…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 10:09 am December 27, 2023

Icky Blossoms at The Waiting Room, Dec. 26. 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

An observation about the crowd at last night’s “day-after-Christmas” concert featuring Icky Blossoms (and friends) that someone else made, which, on hindsight, seems particularly relevant: Other than ourselves and a couple folks who were with us, there were no familiar faces in the sold-out-sized crowd jammed on the floor of The Waiting Room. Demographically, the audience was young for a band that hasn’t released any new music in almost a decade (eight years since Mask, to be exact) and whose early single (the bouncy “Babes”) was released in 2012. Yet despite this, the crowd was mainly filled with anonymous 20-somethings (other than us) there to get their dance on. These Christmas concerts usually feel like millennial wedding receptions populated with the usual group of music-scene hipsters who grew up listening to the same records from the Saddle Creek label (either their own copies or their older brothers’ or sisters’ copies). This, it seemed, would be a good thing, — a reflection that the band’s audience is rotating a new generation of listeners, perhaps driven by recent song placements in video games (see Sunday’s blog entry) or (more unlikely) the after-effect of Icky Blossoms having performed at this summer’s Maha Music Festival. Either way… hope for the future?

We arrived just as PROBLEMS (a.k.a. Darren Keen) was finishing his set and the place was already jam packed. There was Darren on stage behind his synth equipment riding herd over a flock of gyrating dancers. 

David Nance and Pearl Lovejoy Boyd at The Waiting Room, Dec. 26, 2023.

I grabbed my Rolling Rock and we pushed through the crowd toward the front just a David Nance and his band began their set. I’ve always been a Nance fanboy back to his Actor’s Diary (2013, Grapefruit Records) days, having watched him go from a noise collage artist through psych rock, garage rock to what he’s doing now, which resembles something that Robbie Robertson and The Band might have played during their Scorsese-filmed heydays. Nance has a crisp, golden voice with just the right amount of wheeze to give it the soul needed to power these Midwest blues-rock nuggets. 

Top of the list was an uptempo rock number about “taking the covers off” with someone, which was a new one on me, and, a more laid-back-than-usual version of “Credit Line,” a cool ripper with a groovy guitar loop that, in times past, had straight-up rocked. Nance’s overall set was more subdued than any in recent memory, powered by his usual sidemen including drummer Kevin Donahue and guitarist Jim Schroeder, with Pearl Lovejoy Boyd providing tasty harmony vocals. I don’t know who that was on bass, but he was awesome. 

Then on came Icky Blossoms, and by then we had pushed our way through the crowd to that dark divot off the side of the stage by the bathrooms, well out of the way of what I assumed would be a bouncing mob. 

Icky Blossoms sounded as good as always, though I don’t remember seeing them play to such a large crowd. The band played their usual set drawn from their two albums, the highlights (for me, anyway) again being the dance numbers – “Babes” and “Cycle” among them. By the time they got to the night’s big raver, “Sex to the Devil,” they’d asked the lighting guy to turn off the overhead lights, leaving them illuminated only by the under-lit stage lights that strobed in sync with their music. That lighting combined with the bouncing crowd gave the room the same energy I remember from Faint concerts from back in the day. 

Joining the core band of Nik Fackler, Sarah Bohling and Derek Pressnall was bass player Sara Bertuldo (See Through Dresses) and drummer Javid Dabestani – with this solid line-up, new music (reportedly) on the way and what appeared to be a fresh new audience, there’s nothing holding back Icky Blossoms except their own complicated lives. It would be fun to see them re-emerge as a modern-day dance powerhouse…

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