April 9, 2011
Better Than: A show with twice as many bands and half as many people.
As far as shows at Churchill's go, last night's show was a near perfect one. Save for some unnecessary bromantic tension in the mosh pit, there wasn't a bad moment all night.
Walking into Churchill's with four bands on the bill, no surprise additions or random extra stuff going on outside, certainly set the tone for a carefree show. Every act brought a little something different to the stage -- and the crowd was game for all of it. Even the impromptu dance parties that erupted as the soundman played Gary Neuman, Michael Jackson, and Peaches in between bands were well worth the $5 admission.
One-man instrumental band Feathers kicked off the show. Working meticulously behind his 1970s space-age patch boards, he created an ambient soundscape. Pulling from German pioneers Neu, his set focused on just a few droning chunky notes, steady driving drumbeats, and clever melodic variations. The crowd was engaged in some serious head-nodding. Behind his altar of hi-fi gadgets, Feathers led the room in guided tonal meditation. As the melodies trailed into deep space, the vibe was perfect for light tripping.
Teepee hit the stage minutes later. His sets range from one-man acoustical jams to one-man noise experiments to full-band rock electricity. Last night's version was Teepee (Eric Lopez) on lead vocals and guitar, Sarah Attias from Little Beard on keys and backing vocals, and two guys from Deaf Poets on guitar and drums. They blended some of the best elements of '90s guitar rock with ghostly melodies and frantic drumming. The musical tension reached it's apex as Lopez and Attias sang, "I dreamed that I killed you/I dreamed that I married you" in unison.
Psychic Mirrors made use of every square inch of the Churchill's stage. Frontman Ryan De Grandy came up with pistols blazing and delivered his lyrics with his signature laid-back ferocity. The band was working together like a tight unit. The girl backup singers were in perfect synch, singing and busting out dance moves. The synths and guitarwork wound smoothly through layered percussion and drumming. They managed to make what could've been a sonic clusterfuck sound like a Quincy Jones production.
And Psychic Mirrors' Miami love was contagious, De Grandy yelled to the crowd, "This is all for you Miami!" The crowd cheered on as the stage began to look and sound like a jungle. After De Grandy announced that they were about to play their final jam, one enthusiastic show-goer screamed, "We want a hundred more!"
Fresh off the road, Jacuzzi Boys gave the hometown crowd an amazing performance. This band gets better and better every show. The crowd was going crazy. Sometimes a little too crazy. The pit got really violent at times.
A couple of guys spent the first half of the set sizing each other up, pouncing on one another like a couple of dogs play fighting while locking eyes and circling in weird dance of bromosexual tension. Their two-man mosh pit, a few feet away from the equally intense 40-person pit, plowed into dozens of passive crowd members who just wanted to watch the band. A few boyfriends of girls that got unexpectedly attacked by these dudes spent most of the show setting picks to protect their ladies.
Jacuzzi Boys' frontman Gabriel Alcala remarked, "Hey, tough guys, take it easy with the mosh pit. There's girls out there. Don't hurt my sister." But there was no calming this crowd down. The people were flinging and throwing each other all over the floor. A few songs later, a clearly annoyed Alcala said, "You guys were just mosh-pitting to the gayest solo in rock 'n' roll history."
Whatever qualms the Boys had with the pit, it didn't stop them from having a good time or delivering a furious set. Plus, it was really exciting to hear a new batch of songs from the upcoming album, which seem to be as catchy as the classics.
Man, we can't wait to hear the versions they committed to tape a few weeks ago.
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Spotted In The Crowd: A bearded Chuck Loose. Guys who had to rip their shirts off in order to party hard enough. A girl with a gin and tonic in her t-shirt pocket.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Don't fight that guy. Somebody else will kick his ass by the time the show's over."
Personal Bias: I love Churchill's, all these bands, and everything they represent about the Miami music scene.