There are some bands that just look like ‘bands.’ They walk into some place and you know you’re not looking at a banker or elementary school teacher. One of the last shows I’d seen at Bowery Ballroom before last night was the Morning After Girls, Singapore Sling and Brian Jonestown Massacre – all bands who look like ‘bands.’ None of them were wearing the white Band Member sticker that Bowery gives out to performers because they really didn’t have to. You knew at first glance that those kids were in ‘bands.’ Last night’s show was a different story. Bishop Allen and Dirty on Purpose were milling about the crowd last night at Bowery and if I hadn’t known any better I never would have known they were the people about to take the stage and deliver one of the most fun/beautiful shows I’d seen in a while.
The first time I saw Bishop Allen I stood there with my friend and we just stared up at the stage with huge smiles on our faces. Bishop Allen seems to elicit that response in most people. Charm School, their debut LP, was one of the most, ummm, charming records of 2003. Lead Bishop Justin’s singing is able to sound sad, snarky, cheerful and forceful from moment to moment, Christian’s guitar lines bounce along with C.O.’s bass, and the four of them on stage look like they could be playing to a cafeteria full of 10 year olds just as easily as they played to an ever-growing indie crowd at Bowery.
Dirty on Purpose. Where to begin? Every time I see this band I love them a little bit more. Listening to their EP Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow on my computer at work, turning the volume up a few clicks every time “Mind Blindness” comes on (which you can listen to with some other tracks at the band’s MySpace page), I forget the power the band has live. Opening with the epic, swirling “Monument,” and playing through new songs and tracks off the EP, DoP create a blanket of sound so warm and inviting, swirling and expansive, you forget you’re in the same Bowery Ballroom you started in. You can check out their transportive musical powers over at their site where they’re offering a download of a recent show in Boston. If you’re in Philly tonight, swing by the Khyber and check these kids out and be transported to Dirty on Purpose land.