Friday night had the questionable goal of seeing 5 bands in 3 venues in the space of 9pm to 1am. The night kicked off with the Greenhornes at Irving Plaza. The Greenhornes first blipped on my radar through their bass player, Little Jack Lawrence of Blanche fame, and their EP East Grand Blues, available via iTunes has been on steady rotation for months now. Reminiscent of the Kinks, the Byrds and the Yardbirds, the Greenhornes tunes range from the psychedelic sounds of “Patterned Skies” to the Dusty in Memphis-esque jam with Holly Golightly, “There Is An End” off the upcoming V2 compilation Sewed Soles. Somehow the band manages to create a sound that is original yet respectfully referential to bands that have come before them. I liked them recorded, but had no idea the centerpiece, drummer Patrick Keeler, was the rock in their live show. Jack and Patrick provided the rhythm section on Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, not the most intensely rock album of 2004, and their recordings don’t reveal that they have a monster behind the kit. Flanked by vocalist/guitarist Craig Fox and Jack on bass, Patrick killed his drum kit and brought the band to a completely new level live.
East Grand Blues was produced by label-mate Brendan Benson, so it was fitting that he took the stage after the Greenhornes. I’ve gushed about Brendan on the Tripwire before, and I maintain that the man makes brilliance look so easy, you wonder why there aren’t more people out there making perfect morning records. Few things make a hung-over train ride into the office more bearable than Alternative to Love, Lapalco or One Mississippi and while the records are fantastic, the true wonder of Brendan comes across most strikingly live. Supported by his right hand man, the Waxwings’ Dean Ferita, Brendan effortlessly won over Irving with songs from his three releases.
Then it was a quick cab ride over to Bowery Ballroom to catch the Crimea. Earlier that day I had been at Electric Ladyland Studios with the band for a recording of a live session for UGO.com and had gotten to hear “Lottery Winners on Acid” and “Baby Boom” from their debut EP, Lottery Winners on Acid and new track “Someone’s Crying” off the forthcoming Tragedy Rocks LP, currently available on everyone’s favorite online music source, iTunes. We’ve been following the band since they turned heads at SXSW 2004, the release of the EP and their subsequent non-stop touring and it’s been fantastic watching the band grow into the superior rock band they’ve become. Their intricately woven and skewed “pocket symphonies” have taken on a life of their own live and when they played an intimate gig at the Hanger Bar on Saturday night you couldn’t help but feel you were watching a band about to explode when their Tragedy Rocks is officially released via Warner Brothers next year.
Realizing that perhaps 5 bands was a bit ambitious, I sat out Electric Six’s set at the bar downstairs at Bowery, hearing “Gay Bar,” “Danger! High Voltage” and “Dance Commander” through the sound system while imagining Dick Valentine’s antics from a bar stool. Then it was a run (alright, a spirited walk) down Delancey to a random restaurant that had opened its basement for a late-nite rock show where one of my current favorite Brooklyn bands, Marla Hooch wrapped up my night. Who needs a nap?