The latest glut of teeny-bopper emo bands hit the Meow Meow this Monday, with expected results. The crowd loved them and sang along with their songs about heartbreak. Unfortunately for this happy scene, one person in attendance was not so enthused, and that person is a bitter music snob who prefers to laud the likes of Free and the Sleepers … and with damn good reason too!
It helps when you play songs that actually sound different from each other, unlike Jamisonparker. Or songs that your solo acoustic guitar playing can carry, unlike the New Amsterdams. Straylight Run’s performance was more worthy of defense, with a good guitar sound and interesting textures, thanks to various pedals and a keyboard player, who traded her keys for the lead singer’s guitar for a few songs. Also, they had a mentally divergent guest player who took the stage ahead of them, named Tom, who played a few interesting songs about nude stalking, pigeons and turning punk.
Preceding them was the New Amsterdams, a single western-shirted dude (Matt Pryor from the Get Up Kids) who played solo acoustic songs of woe. Despite his relatively unoriginal set, he had great stage presence and interacted with the audience in a genuine and laid-back manner that is all too uncommon among musicians. Plus, he played harmonica with a harness.
Openers Jamisonparker were a generic-brand emo rock group who looked like they just fell out of the pages of Rolling Stone or some such publication, replete with Gibson SG and the Emo Combover. They sucked, however. Their lead guitarist never played lead guitar, and the only way I could tell he was a lead guitarist was that he didn’t sing and climbed up on the drum riser and postured like a lead guitarist. Too bad he was playing power chords the whole time.
Two things saved this concert from being a total yawn fest, and they were the Kid A house music and Murder by Death. From the beginning of their set to the end, Murder by Death’s frenetic guitar-electric cello whirlwind piled up tension and ominous vibrations, only to wash them down with a knife-like guitar riff or somber piano flourish. With song titles like ‘Until Morale Increases, Beatings Will Continue’ and timeless topics such as Satan, boozing, and the apocalypse, how could this band not be good?
They had a totally wicked set closer, a super long frenzy of feedback and foreboding with gray guitar riffs and no vocals. Now that’s good music. Luckily for the other bands on this tour, Murder by Death was good enough to breathe life into the sad-sack corpse that was this concert. So next time they come to town, check them out, but don’t spend too much on the other bands. Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing.