Concert Review: The Jameses at Propaganda on Friday, May 14

The Jameses
With Chill Pillars/Cop City, Nervous Systems, Guy Harvey
Propaganda, Lake Worth
Friday, May 14, 2010

The Jameses' "Gobi Desert" is nearly seven minutes of revivalist lo-fi rock built with a guitar riff every bit as seductive as Pavement's noodlings on "In the Mouth of a Desert." During the West Palm Beach trio's slot at Propaganda on Friday, unleashing "Gobi" took a night marked with garbled lyrics and post-punk thrashing to a sublime spot where the crowd could neither stand offensively still, nor throw themselves violently against one another -- both scenarios occurred at other points during the evening.

Singer-guitarist-keyboardist Dan McHugh's soothing manatee T-shirt helped complete the mood of the "Gobi" moment, which consisted of a lot of nodding heads and complete strangers exchanging satisfied smiles. No cynicism, just a few stanzas of infectious guitar melody, followed by a tension-filled coda that never lets up, flogging

away until the final chord.

Earlier, the Jameses' commotion was a hot poker to the crowd -- not only did the

assembled move close to the stage, but

McHugh even admonished to tell them to play nice. With Jesse Bryan handling keys, bass and some tambourine, and drummer

Danny Hitchcock kicking every song in the rear, they took the

night onto their shoulders and spun it with dizzying results. The show also marked the

release of the band's "The Haunted Rider"/"Rat People" 7-inch single,

which has a fantastic collage for a cover.

Incidentally, the verses from "The Haunted Rider" are reminiscent of Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" when they play it live.

The rest of the evening: Cop City/Chill

Pillars topped the night's decidedly scuzzy bill with the most

subversive set of them all with post-punk statements often pulsing randomly like a blender. Skittery Gainesville fuzz-rock outfit -- augmented by a killer vintage Crumar organ -- Nervous

Systems has a lead singer who looks like a taller, angstier Steve

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Carell. And, Lake Worth's Guy Harvey, four guys with crackling amps and more than a passing interest in big, blazing Dinosaur Jr.-style fretwork. Someone standing behind me remarked, "they play like they don't care." True that they looked shy and unaffected, but anyone who rigs a pickup into a miniature acoustic guitar's sound hole with packing tape has to care at least a little.

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