Monday, March 03, 2003

Rock Shows of Note LVI
Like the good 30-year-old I am, I stayed in Thursday and Friday nights so I could venture out in the drizzle Saturday for a solid show at the Abbey Lounge. I arrived around 9, about 20 minutes early for the start of the first set, a solo performance by the Brooklyn-based Jennifer O'Connor. O'Connor's been coming up from New York a lot lately, and I was impressed by her emotive singer-songwriter set. More indie rock than folk, her time on stage included several highlights. Her friend Kim joined her for a song on the melodica and played really well for her first time doing so. O'Connor played one of her friend's songs -- a pleasant little number musing about whether animals dream about zoos -- that stuck with me. And she seemed to nail the cover she said she tried to play in town last week -- but screwed up. You can catch her again April 10 at the Kendall Cafe with Eric Saulnier, whom I've mentioned here previously.

Next up, Soltero. I last saw them near the end of January, but I didn't really pay much attention. Saturday night, I did. And it was high time. Reminding me of what Papas Fritas might have sounded like in their earliest of days -- if they'd come from the Coctails school of self-taught bash pop -- they delighted with some delicious strained singing, off-key harmonies, and other antics -- such as clapping in the crowd and surprising "woo-hoo" yelps. Incorporating Johnny Cash-like baritone singing, several songs really hit me hard: "The Moment You Said Yes," "Autobahn," and "Fight Song for True Love." Lyrics blend the bittersweet and the banal. And the band had its own cheering section! Two tanktopped women on the left side of the club really whooped it up. Fun on stage, fun on the floor. I'll catch Soltero again.

Admittedly, Choo Choo la Rouge was who I was really there to see, however. While I've loved their shows in the past, while I love their CD, and while I'm sheepishly embarrassed that so many of the band members remember my name while all I can muster is Vincent, this show fell a little flat. They opened with a couple of new songs, which were good to hear, but I felt that their older songs were different -- either performed with less passion or slightly rewritten. With the past strength of their choruses and catchy hooks, I'd be surprised and disappointed if the band has expurgated some of my favorite sing-along parts. Maybe they didn't. Maybe my favorite songs just seemed to end too quickly.

Lastly, the In Out. Some sad news. They were supposed to have copies of their new CD on hand Saturday night. And the label had even shipped them several boxes of the disc. But some lame jerk stole the boxes from in front of where they'd been delivered, and the band arrived with only a few copies of the record. Now, what kind of person steals packages off of porches and whatnot? That's right, a bad, mean, stupid person. From what I gathered, the band called some local used record stores to warn folks that someone might be trying to sell them, but I shudder to think what fate befell those CD's. Did the thief just trash them? People, please don't steal. Despite that setback and letdown, the band put on a good show. Sure, I wish that they'd push what they do a little further. They are an extremely good Fall-like band, but I can't get past the comparison. They're not a tribute band, but sometimes they sound so much like the Fall that I get confused. I wish they'd grow beyond that focus and make the sound they're chasing a little more their own. Regardless, they had energy. They were relatively fun to watch. And the music is worth listening to. Can't wait until they get more copies of the record.

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