Last Night: Jacuzzi Boys, Strange Boys, Gentleman Jesse and His Men, and Electric Bunnies at Churchill's

Jacuzzi Boys
with Strange Boys, Gentleman Jesse and His Men, and Electric Bunnies
at Churchill's Pub, Miami
September 5, 2010

Better than: last Sunday, next Sunday.

The Review:
"We'd like to thank Sailor ... um ... Sailor ... Sailor Jerry" were the first of few words said by Electric Bunnies' main guitarist Eldys Diaz. They then  dove right in and played an atypically controlled set, absent of their trademark eternal feedback, but there was still a bizarre sense that something was about to go horribly wrong.

The Electric Bunnies started with a steady lineup of noisy pop-songs sung by bassist Victor Barrenchea. It wasn't until the last few seconds of their closing song "Pretty Joanna" that the chaos took over. As guitarist Tony Villamil attacked and body-slammed his Vox amp, Barrenchea launched his bass into the air, just barely interrupting drummer/older bother Thomas Barrenchea's zombie rhythm. A relieving end to the set, and a little taste of classic Bunnies chaos.

Atlanta's Gentleman Jesse and His Men charged the stage and took over with a back-to-back blast of power-pop power. With guitars borrowed from the Beatles and the energy they inherited from the Jam, they controlled the crowd. Gentleman Jesse is a marvelous frontman. He's classy and confident. His vocal melodies are classic Elvis Costello; and last night he belted them out with a joyful intensity. The guitar leads were amazing, and that Rickenbacker sounded like lasers!

This is a band that lights up the stage and the faces of those who watch. Sadly their 12-song set seemed to end before the first cigarette was out. Their final song, "Hands Together," and its reference to "nasty weather" was strikingly prophetic. When they were done playing, a lightning storm was kicking outside, keeping the club occupied to near-maximum capacity.

The Strange Boys came all the way from Austin, Texas for the show, and played a set of 60's rhythm & blues influenced tunes. Singer Ryan Sambol simultaneously looks like a young boy and an old man, making us question if this has any relation to the choice in band name. His voice was weary and slurred, kind of like Pete Doherty from the Libertines. But we didn't really care.

The band appeared to be catching a cold, seemingly disinterested in their songs, and even less interested in the crowd. This may have been their goal, but we weren't really sure. Some of the crowd was dancing, some of them just looking at their phones. They're a fine band, and gave a good performance, but their careless energy hid in the shadows of the Gentleman Jesse performance.

The crowd seemed to double in size and triple in energy when the Jacuzzi Boys began their set. It was a typical JBs show, which is to say: It was a blast. These guys are the real thing. Every song is a hit, and the crowd waited patiently to freak out for their hometown heroes.

Critic's Notebook:
Personal Bias: I love power-pop; it was almost a given that Gentleman Jesse and His Men would blow me away.

The Crowd: loaded with Electric Bunny Tony Villamil look-a-likes.

Overheard in the crowd: "I like my Sailor Jerry's with salt and gasoline."

Gentleman Jesse and His Men's Set List

-I Don't Wanna Know
-I'm a Mess
-Black Hole
-All I Need Tonight
-Kinda Uptight
-What Did I Do?
-Hands Together

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Jose Flores