Monday, June 03, 2002

Rock Shows of Note XXI
I don't think I ever commented on the May 23 Anchormen show with Choo Choo La Rouge and Tony Goddess of Papas Fritas! Before I touch on Saturday night show at the Middle East, let me sneak in some edited notes from my Little Red Notebook:

The show went well. Tony Goddess was a little lackluster in this Storytellers-style solo singer-songrwriter setting, but he was extremely nice. I kept hearing Shivika and Keith's voices in (and imprints) on the songs -- especially the older, more popular Papas Fritas numbers. Tony says that the band's basically been broken up since recording the last record. But they are playing two shows this summer, and Tony and Shivika have recorded a couple of songs together that will be released as a Papas Fritas 7-inch. Tony'd like to be in a band again. And he's got practice and studio space in Gloucester, so if you're interested, contact the man.

Choo Choo La Rouge was, as always, quite good. Their Robyn Hitchcock by way of Bob Dylan and Neutral Milk Hotel (rare instances) song stylings are really growing on me. And having listened to their CD several times, I appreciate more songs live than I did at first blush. And the Anchormen? We were OK. We were funnier than usual -- a little dark. And kinda low energy. But we were tight, I didn't forget any words, and people really seemed to like us. Special thanks to the two groups of strangers who danced throughout our set -- and to the woman up front and center who good-naturedly took our ribbing about her watch, etc. A lot of laughter tonight. Not all of it at our expense.

Now that that is out of the way, Saturday night. I wasn't sure I'd make it to the Brett Rosenberg Problem's CD release party at the Middle East Upstairs, given my late night out Friday with Tammy, a friend from high school -- and spending most of Saturday with an ex I haven't really seen or talked to for several months -- but I'm glad that I did. I got there just as the Nines were starting their set, and after a jarring guitar chord that woke up the entire club, the power-pop threesome launched into an infectious set of amazing garage rock. Reminding me of some of the bands affiliated with Get Hip, the Nines also represented elements of sing-along punk rock a la the Riverdales and other Ramones interpreters. I could see this band again, and I'm glad they found a bunch of old singles in their attic recently.

By the time Brett Rosenberg and his two friends took the stage, much of the Handstand Command collective and its satellites were there: Jef and Jen, Deb from Hi-Fi, and three-fourths of Spoilsport. (To be fair, Handstand Command could very well be the other folks' satellite; I don't mean to claim them as ours -- or to eclipse their projects.) Brett opened with a slow, sensitive ballad -- a surprising beginning -- and then ran through many of the best songs from his previous CD -- as well as a bunch of new numbers from his brand new disc, which I'll review in Media Diet soon. His influences are clear, but his delivery is so direct and honestly enthusiastic that there's little sense of second-generation aping. As much as I like Brett and his music, I couldn't stick around for the entire show, though. Given the events of the past two days, I was a little tired about midway through Brett's set -- so I headed home, ears ringing and heart singing.

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