By: Amanda Dickey
As a long time fan of the post-punk genre, the write-up description for an upcoming show at Caledonia Lounge in Flagpole Magazine immediately captured my attention. I am, and have been, a huge fan of such post-punk bands as The Cure, New Order, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others since I was fifteen. So, when I
saw the term “post-punk,” I thought this show might bring sweet, sweet love and familiarity to my ears.
If post-punk was hiding in the room somewhere, it would have been in the spirit of Robert Smith clawing at the door to the exit, his infamous mascara running down his powdered white face from sheer aural pain.
This guy, T.S. Woodward, actually wasn’t such a bad performer and singer/songwriter. I had to give him kudos for only being one guy (I admired the man’s mettle to get up on stage solo), pumping his fingers up and down on a Casio and singing love songs into a microphone under hot, vibrant blue, red and orange lights. He did have some admirable keyboard skills, but his voice lacked power and
confidence (and was a little off-key).
The man’s getup, however, was a little… well, Athens-esque. I don’t know how else to put it. Perhaps he could be described as wannabe hipster with the typical twirled mustache combined with pungent Steampunk drifter. A black top hat rested atop his head.
Despite the dress, though, Woodward’s final song seemed most heartfelt. Although a love song (most of which I’m not generally fond of), there was a subtle increase in his crooning. He rolled up the sleeves of his white, collared shirt during this act, showing he meant getting down to business. While not the most brilliant of songs, “Twain” got my vote for best song of the night.
After a short break, the four-piece group Baxter and the Basics came onstage. My friends and I realized that most of the people in the audience were here for them, because almost everyone began to stop meandering and socializing. They came right up to the stage, to the point that my friends and I couldn’t see.
If I haven’t made my distaste for the majority of hipster-esque bands known through earlier statements, here is where I go ahead and spell it out for you. I did not like this band. I’ll admit that I’m pretty judgmental when it comes to appearance. Collared, flannel shirts and tight blue jeans comprised this band’s attire. Along with beards. So. Much. Beard. I’m usually a fan of indie rock, but sometimes the genre is such a broad term, you never know what you’re going to get. And this was more along the lines of progressive rock jam band with the crooning of sappy pop love song singing.
I must say, though, the band had a very cohesive and tight sound. They were polished, in sync and had strong relationships with one other which you can pick up if you’ve played in a band before. Their stage presence was energetic, impressive and confident.
However, my distaste for backup singers, sappy singing and bearded hipsters overshadowed most of their strengths. The lead singer kept switching from guitar to keyboard, leaving the bassist to take over the vocals on a few songs. Bad idea. The bassist lacked power and the microphone was even turned up to compensate for his lackluster singing skills (way too late, P.A. dude, I observed).
By the end of the act, I was bored and ready to call it quits. Nothing jumped out at me and made me lose myself in the music, aside from some pleasant and melodic guitar riffs, though they were too muffled by the poppy drumbeats and sappy singing to really enjoy.
Five Shirley Temples and the resulting sugar rush could not rectify this unpleasant situation.
Maybe I should have gone with hard liquor.
The last band was the most… well, unique band that I have seen in quite some time. Do you ever just feel embarrassed for somebody? Well, this was one of those moments. My friends and I took some side seats in the Caledonia as everyone who had apparently only came to see Baxter and the Basics left. We felt too guilty and obligated to get up and leave when the music started without feeling rude, as we were the only ones left in the crowd.
The Love is Loud!! was this trio’s name. I actually enjoyed the singer’s voice. It had a smooth, deep tone that resonated well in the small space of the Caledonia. However, while he had stage presence, it was the wrong kind of presence. The kind that makes you place your palm on your head and hope for their own sake that they stop with the awkward embarrassment before you can quit blushing. He seemed to be molesting the microphone in a very awkward and sexual manner. The bassist and drummer had an interesting and unique melody. However, the singer’s voice
sounded awkward and did not fit well with the music.
Despite the clashing sounds, the lead singer/front man was dressed very well for his performance. He was very tall, and liked to point at invisible members in the audience and make extremely sensual gestures bordering on the obscene. This R&B infused funk group was not as tightly composed as Baxter and the Basics, and there were a few confused glances happening between band members. And for some strange reason, the bassist was almost pressed flat against the stage wall, hidden from the audience.
This strange, muddled juxtaposition of bands was pretty unimpressive. I was entertained, though, but probably not in the way that these bands would have wanted me to be. Our laughs and delight came from the ridiculousness of it all, and not purely from auditory enjoyment.