Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Rock Shows of Note LVIII
After meeting a friend for dinner at the Good Life -- which, I was disappointed to learn, has gotten rid of its former entree menu to fall back on burgers and pizza -- for dinner, I headed over to TT the Bear's for a wonderful indie-rock show. Before I report on the show, let me share some of the history I've learned about TT's. The next time you go, make sure you read the enlarged newspaper clippings hanging on the wall in the pool room.

Originally located on Pearl Street, TT the Bear's opened in May 1973 as a full-service restaurant. It was known for its vegetarian-friendly menu, handicapped-accessible restrooms, and bear decorations. There were bear posters on the wall, bear figurines on display, and a big stuffed bear sitting in a corner stool at the bar. All of this is now gone, although last night, the door woman used a teddy bear rubber stamp to mark hands. TT's then moved, perhaps in the early '80s, to its current location. I'm not sure when they closed the kitchen and stopped being a restaurant, but Chris and I were figuring out where the different seating areas might have been. The kitchen space is still there, even if it's not in operation.

The first band up was Teradactyl, an ethereal pop band from Honolulu. A three piece, the band consists of a lanky guy playing guitar, an absolutely beautiful slim woman playing the keyboards and singing, and a slightly larger man playing guitar and working a box to provide bleeps and beats. The guitars were by turns twee and punctuation oriented and almost psyche washy. I appreciated the skinny guitarist more of the two, as his melodic lines were well performed and he occasionally broke into jagged bursts of guitar chunk. The other guitarist focused more on a dreamy, washy, effects-laden sound, which isn't really my bag. And the singer? Her vocals were extremely clean and controlled, and her voice is much bigger than what you'd expect from her frame. Quite a surprise. The songs with more dancy beats were quite fun, and the last song with ukelele, washy synths, and a breathier singing style -- the almost Poi Dog Pondering-like "Sleepy Eyes" -- was extremely nice. But overall, Teradactyl was a little too restrained for my tastes. I'm listening to their "Prepare for Lift-Off" CD now, and it's slightly better suited for listening than watching. Still, fun.

Next up, the Operators, who have several songs newer that they've only played one or two times. One is an awesome Stereolab-inspired number, with Jen singing in a higher, falsetto-like voice. Quite a departure from their usual sound, and quite impressive. I learned that the song "The Old Man Doesn't Like It" is based on Thor Heyerdahl's book Kontiki -- not the restaurant out by Alewife! -- and that the lyrics are almost entirely plagiarized from the text. Even the line "1, 2, 3 ... 39, 40, 41" is lifted straight from the page, ellipses and everything. The show was also marked by a nice moment in which Paul jumped up and down like a spaz, flopping his hair all around. A solid set.

Second Story Man hails from Louisville, Kentucky, and plays a more straight-forward, tuneful mode of indie-rock than the Operators do, and their set made it quite clear why Emily likes them so. The bands are closely related soundwise. While their songs have slightly more concrete structures, I didn't find them as engaging. That said, I found the four piece engaging enough to pick up their homemade CD, "Compilation Songs for the Road," clad in a handmade, sewn cloth sleeve adorned with an embroidered ribbon closure. Worth getting just as an item. (In fact, the Teradactyl CD is also a nice item, with the CD tucked into a screenprinted paper sack.)

Last up, Seana Carmody. I've seen her play live several times already, and this set was much like the others I've taken in. One difference is that she played with a three piece this go. The band included her boyfriend, who debuted as a lapsed drummer at her Dec. 19 show. He's much better and more confident than he seemed at that show, and the band played many songs I recognized, even though I haven't seriously listened to her work enough yet to be able to sing along, name songs, etc.

A fun night, with lots of friends in attendance. One friend even locked herself out of her apartment, so she crashed at my place. I don't think I've ever hosted a friend before because they got locked out.

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