Thursday, February 11, 2010

Videos: Beauty Bar in January

Don't hate; celebrate! That's Beauty Bar's new slogan (as evidenced by their Twitter page). I appreciate that this notoriously hipster bar understands its perception in town (and that it's got a sense of humor about it).

Beauty Bar is indeed that bar that indie music fans love to hate. On the one hand, your average fan sometimes feels under-dressed and uncool, and while the bartenders have improved lately, it used to take forever to get a drink if you didn't look like an uber-Mod in flashy vintage clothes. But like I said, that seems to be changing for the better.

The reason we've begrudgingly loved Beauty Bar all these years is because the bands that play there are usually really really good. And even when the band sucks, at least Beauty Bar was willing to give them a shot. So in that spirit, let's celebrate. Here are some video clips I took at Beauty Bar on my HD pocket camera last month. If the embeds don't show up below, watch the videos on my Facebook video page instead.

I've been a fan of MoTel Aviv since they were called A.U.X. (they changed the name during Free Week 2009). I appreciate a band that puts effort into its stage show and into its performance. Live music is more than playing instruments. It's about performing. It's my longstanding belief that fans will only have as much fun at a show as the band members appear to be having themselves. So it goes without saying, based on Rodney Connell's giddy hops and Misti Watkins' smooth-as-silk strutting and sliding, that MoTel Aviv greatly enjoy what they're doing. And if they don't, they at least have the showmanship to act like it for our sake.

Jam out with your Frantic Clam out! Sorry, I had to. Anyway, this band isn't the best in town, but they're not the worst. Lead singer/guitarist Zack Hadley has good energy on stage and a knack for writing really catchy songs (I'm a big fan of "We Own The Night" and "Sasha Grey"). But the problem is that those songs don't translate as well live as they do on record. They seem to be missing pieces live. As a trio live, they aren't able to replicate the layered sound of their recordings. Maybe a keyboard player and a second guitarist would do the trick. And a little live vocal harmonizing would go a long way. But I at least respect this band, and that's gotta be worth something.

I was recently interviewed for a feature story by the Do512 Blog. When my interviewer asked me what changes I've seen in the local music scene in recent years, I said I've noticed lots more electro-dance bands, particularly ones who are more concerned with image and hype than actually playing good music. To date, I've seen only one electro-dance act in town that pulls it off and is really really good: Neiliyo, the one-man dance party. He gets it. He has a sense of humor about it. But when these electro-dance bands take themselves seriously, that's when things go wrong and the train runs right off the tracks. Case-in-point: The Madness.

I want to like Love Hate Affair, I do. But they sound so much like their influences that it's hard not to write them off. I can tell they have talent. They just haven't found their sound yet. They have a sound. But it's a sound that's been done a million times. I have confidence that if they stick to it, they'll mature and start writing stuff that moves past the affinity for Interpol and Joy Division. Right now, it's just not there.

File Under: MoTel Aviv, Frantic Clam, The Madness, Love Hate Affair