Still burnt from the weekend, I managed to drag myself out of the house on a Monday night for a rare start-of-the-week double bill of merit: Philadelphia's guitar scorchers Burning Brides and Swedish noise poppers Division Of Laura Lee at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. It was Division's second trip through in six months, after having played with Haven in October but it would be my first time witnessing the Brides live. Was I in for a surprise.
I was a fan of Burning Brides' recent effort on V2, The Fall Of The Plastic Empire, but their live show took that album and expanded it by the power of 10. It was an incendiary blast of tuned-down guitars, driving rhythms and vocal energy I was not expecting, and thus, it blew me away. Most of the material was culled from the new album, including set-starter and first UK single, "Glass Slipper," as well as debut US single, "Arctic Snow." As frontman and guitarist Dimitri Coats (he of the "I look like anyone from Fab of The Strokes to Jim Morrison to The Greatest American Hero" vibe) wailed on his guitar and bassist Melanie Campbell laid down driving bassline after bassline, the songs took a turn toward the sublime. All of a sudden this wasn't the Burning Brides on stage: it was Liam Gallagher fronting an amalgamation of Soundgarden/Queens Of The Stone Age/Black Sabbath/Kyuss. It was incredible. Ex-Delta 72 Drummer Jason Kourkounis continued with his skinbashing and Coats had taken a vocal swagger very similar to the Oasis frontman, while turning out riff after down-tuned riff. I was in a daze. I had come expecting a decent show and had witnessed the rare experience of getting far more than I expected. Hats off to the Brides and I can't wait to see them blow away countless more heads opening for Audioslave in March.
Just because I KNEW what I was getting with Gothenburg's Division Of Laura Lee didn't make it any less enjoyable, however. Their most recent work for Epitaph, Black City, is a collection of catchy, angular garage rock songs and their live show was no different, albeit louder. While not the best looking of bands, the Division know their way around a hook, as was evidenced in numbers such as "Access Identity," The Truth Is Fucked," the album's title track, and the jump-around special, "Need To Get Some." The latter two truly show the band's true strengths, sing-a-long choruses and guitar hooks that embed themselves in your frontal lobe, refusing to leave for hours. I don't know what they're doing in Sweden, whether it's cloning rock stars or building bands in robot factories, but one thing's for sure: between The Hives, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Sahara Hotnights, (International) Noise Conspiracy and Division Of Laura Lee, the Swedes sure can bring the rock.