Monday, September 08, 2003

Rock Shows of Note LXXVI

Having no interest whatsoever in the NEMO showcase and conference, which strikes me as a poor man's SXSW -- and which will hopefully change now that it's under new management -- I went out last night to hear my friend TD spin at the Middle East. We'd both gotten up to leave Bethesda, Maryland, at 5:30 a.m. yesterday, TD heading to the airport in Baltimore, and me to drive to New York and then catch a Greyhound home. We were both relatively tired, but I thought the usual Sunday night at the Middle might make up for the lame parties at SPX.

Even though I fared slightly better than TD, who was left to DJ'ing for a largely empty bar, I was right. Last night rocked. Why? Upon my arrival, TD told me that he didn't start for another 30 minutes and that I should check out the bands playing upstairs. "Aren't they NEMO bands?" I asked. "No; they're downstairs. Here we've got the Ex Models." The Ex Models? I am so there.

I stepped into the stage side to catch the end of a set by whom I think was the Chinese Stars, a band comprising former members of Arab on Radar and Six Finger Satellite. It's also rumored that comics cutie Allison Cole's boyfriend is in the band. The several songs I heard impressed me with their energetic, herky jerky approach to dance music a la the Rapture. Fun stuff, and the singer had his jean jacket buttoned all the way up. I think more bands should light their drummers from below, too.

Next up, the Ex Models. One of the more intense bands I've seen in awhile, their angular combination of the Talking Heads, Fugazi, and Scared of Chaka is feverish enough on record but much, much more impressive on stage. All three standing band members jump around, throw their instruments back and forth, share vocal attacks, and otherwise make the music with their bodies as well as their instruments. Stab, attack, jump, growl, hoot, holler, twitch. And repeat. A brilliant set. "Other Mathematics" does them little justice. Guttural but gladsome. Took me back to the days of Scissor Girls and Math, they did.

But the band that everyone seemed to really be there for was Daughters. While I was pleased to see one member wearing an old Warp Comics T-shirt, Daughters isn't really my bag. Take one Jim Morrison-like frontman. Add screamo hardcore. Result? Instant mosh pit. Not that the pit, which erupted almost immediately, irritated me any more than the tall men that kept stepping in front of me, trying to back into me to edge me out of my spot, and otherwise invading my space, but for the most part, Daughters don't do it for me live. Their recordings are slightly more palatable, reminding me of Weasel Walter's projects, so maybe there's hope for me yet, sad old man that I am.

I left the show a little into Daughters' set to revel in the openness of the restaurant, sit up front near the DJ booth, and talk with TD. He was pretty bummed that there weren't more people there. When the show closed and people filed out in a parade as though heading to a tour bus, some folks -- including Tall Guy -- stayed behind, which was cool. Thanks, TD, for turning me on to the show. I had no idea the Ex Models were in town, and I was thrilled silly to see them.

Soundtrack: Helloween, "Rabbit Don't Come Easy"

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