ANR, Can't Stop, Deaf Poets, and More Get Holidazed at Churchill's, December 16

Holidazed 2010

Presented by 10K Islands and Discosoma

With ANR, Can't Stop, Sumsun, Plains,
and Deaf Poets
Churchill's Pub
Thursday, December 16, 2010

Better than:
A lame corporate office Holiday party.

When we heard 10K Islands and Discosoma Records were teaming up to have a holiday party, we half expected tacky Christmas sweaters, strings of holiday lights, and a rousing Dreidel competition. Boy, were we wrong.

Instead, we witnessed a night of musical chairs. You might not know it ... But members of Plains also play in Can't Stop and ANR and a member of Deaf Poets also plays in Sumsun. This made for a real test of endurance and stamina. Another thing: Did the audience really have the energy to sit through five full sets and still get up for work bright and early the next morning? Probably not. But that didn't stop us from enjoying each and every minute.

A little after 10:45 p.m., Can't Stop started us off. Led by frontman Jorge Rubiera, the Animal Tropical side project felt like a nice blend of '60s pop and the late '90s NY rock scene. The Beach Boys and the Strokes had a baby, and they just can't stop.

Sumsun followed, making us feel like we were really in a holidaze. Dreamy waterdrops and rainbow disco lighting flashed on the backdrop as the duo bopped their heads in unison, creating deep bass and tribal sounds that seemed perfect for a South Beach hotel poolside lounge. They barely interacted with the crowd. But when they did, the West Palm Beachers mumbled things like, "West Palm Beach is the second best city in Florida." Yeah. That sounds about right.

Later, Plains came on stage with John Hancock on drums, who managed to steal the spotlight and give a shoutout to Jarrett Hann, "One of my favorite musicians on stage." Aww. They sang "Happy Birthday" to ANR's Brian Robertson and charged through their set with so much power that we worried Hancock wouldn't have enough energy to play the closing set.

Deaf Poets took to the stage next, and managed to set up their mic and drums facing each other, sides to the audience. Confused at first why they'd rather watch each other than the enthused crowd, we quickly realized it gave us a better view of quirky little shimmies and Sean Woulters' now trademark tip-toed, knock-kneed dance moves. The sound was a little off. But that's typical of the audio at Churchill's. It was clearly not the band's fault, and they managed to play through it.

At one point, Woulters said to the crowd, "We don't talk much. But we guess you don't care much." But he was so wrong. His constant shifts from sweet, soul-melting acoustics to heavy riffs helped keep us awake way past our bedtimes.

ANR didn't take to the stage until a little after 2 a.m., and the crowd had already dwindled down to about 40 or so. The twosome started off with a synthy version of the Beatles' "Yesterday," as drummer-singer Hancock confessed, "We miss you John," before diving right into their set. The crowd was half-asleep, sitting patiently through R. Kelly after R. Kelly song. But the moment the tag-team jumped into "Blood on Blood," most of us got up off our chairs and started dancing.

"This is a chill group," Hancock noted. And the band went through new and old songs, from "Big Problem" (to be released as a limited 7" in January) to classic ANR faves like "A Needle." The pair intereacted with the crowd and Hancock even suggested, "Tonight you guys will play for us," as a great birthday present for Robertson.

Even though the album hasn't yet made it out onto US shelves, ANR's "Stay Kids" has quickly become a frequently requested cut. And so, the crowd danced like nobody was watching. "It'll be out here in March now," Robertson assured excited show-goers.

The guys powered through some old punk-style anthems like "MIANR" and "Dogs Barking," cracking us up with little witty remarks here and there, and their usual stage antics. But the real surprise came when they started arguing. Coming off more cute than I'm-going-to-kick-your-ass, Robertson started off, saying things like, "You spent all your shit on Plains and now you have nothing left." To which, Hancock replied sarcastically, "Yeahhhh. I'm the one that has to sing and drum. You barely even talk on stage," quickly followed by a smirk and, "Let's argue more."

But what was going on exactly? They were prepping the crowd for a special ANR cover of the Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)," a perfect end for the Holidaze.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias:
I'm pretty much a fan of all of these bands.

The Crowd: A decent mix of 20-somethings, hipsters, and Churchill's regulars.

Overheard in the Crowd: "It's 2 a.m. already? Jesus!"

Random Detail: The DJ played R. Kelly, Rick Ross, and more hip-hop and R&B gems in between bands, lulling us all into a mild coma. This made each band's start that much more energizing.

Can't Stop Set List
-"Amygdala (Sagan's Brain I)"
-"Kids of the ZANUPF"
-"The Boys"
-"We're Still Frenulums"
-"Talking Snake"
-"Record Contract"

Plains Set List
-"End Of"
-"War Machine"
-"Hang On"
-"Sleep Deprived"
-"Say Something"
-"Black Feeling"
-"Team Radio"
-"It's All Right Now"

Deaf Poets Set List
-"Had Me Waiting"
-"Locket In My Pocket"
-"This Pain"
-"Little Red Wagon"
-"Cold Cold Thieves"

ANR Set List
-"Blood On Blood"
-"Don't Fear The Get Out"
-"Big Problem"
-"A Needle"
-"The Endless Field Of Mercury"
-"Stay Kids"
-"The Get Out"
-"Dogs Barking"
-"Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)" (Ramones Cover)

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Christine Borges