November 6: Art Brut
Last night, Jim McTurnan And The Kids That Killed The Man opened a show that may mark the most incredibly energetic, dare I say "epic," music experience of my life. Just two weeks on the heels of an excellent Future of the Left show; the Bluebird hosted Art Brut with Surfer Blood and afore mentioned Jim McTurnan And The Kids That Killed The Man (JMcTATKTKTM for short I assume.). The excellent Bluebird theater was far from packed through the entire evening, which was disappointing, especially considering Art Brut's face-melting awesomeness, but not unexpected. None of these bands are HUGE, or even big really... so the reward for knowing they exist is a great intimate show.
JMcTATKTKTM started the show with the "...only 6 songs [they] have" and did a remarkable job. Only their tenth live show, they lack a bit of presence and polish, but it's clear that there's a lot of song writing talent there with a sound falling somewhere around the Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Weezer style of garage indie rock. Solid lyrics and excellent drumming really made those six songs enjoyable. And seeing a group on the rise like JMcTATKTKTM is now, at least entering into the infancy stages of bandhood was a real treat. Also, when the lead singer for the opening act sticks around to watch the second act, and to study their instrumentation, pedal-schemes, and song structure, it's a good sign that he's serious about making great music.
Surfer Blood, coming into town from South Florida, proved to be an exceptional Round Two. A bunch of young kids who know their shit musically, Surfer Blood utilized broad sound structure by incorporating keys, different modes of percussion (cowbell!) and lots of pedaled-in reverb, drone, and noise. They clearly have more shows under their belt. They've been on the radio, at least, "satellite" radio. But the stage presence was powerful, energetic and clearly confident. Raking picks down the guitar strings and bouncing around with an obvious love for their music, which found a sort of power pop, surfer, Pixies-esque medium and cranked it up as loud as possible, Surfer Blood sold the crowd and brought the show into the adolescence it needed to get raucous. Truly impressive energy. The lyrics were occasionally drowned out by the walls of ear-shattering, looped, guitar howl, but the bulk of the writing sounded excellent via cliche avoidance.
And now the pumps are primed for the greatest rock music from the UK recently. And the ever self-referential Art Brut saunters onto stage appearing as a collective of weary over-traveled rock icons bellying up to a bar. The energy and effort and skill displayed by Eddie Argos and the band plainly kicked the shit out of any show I've attended. Ever. Charismatic and suave, they took control of the audience, grabbed our ears, hearts and minds and blitzed the venue with a solid mix of tracks from It's a Bit Complicated, Art Brut Vs. Satan, and Bang Bang Rock & Roll. Twice, the band halted their set list and asked for requests, and twice we were treated. First "Emily Kane" played to perfection with Argos interjecting how he is now back in touch with the song's subject, and how powerful rock & roll can be. Then "Modern Art" reworded as "DC Comics" came with Argos walking out into the crowd, and telling a long narrative of a time he visited the DC offices in New York. All this done inches from where I was standing. These are the actions that make a show particularly epic. The intimacy is the thing, standing right next to Eddie Argos, face to face. Anyone who says a stadium concert is worth the money, or any better than a small venue show is either a liar, or a lunatic. Art Brut kept the energy high throughout their set, loading theatrics and stories (They had played Salt Lake City the night prior and Argos ruminated on the city's dry policies and how it was impossible to get drunk there.) and great musicianship atop one another. This was the best punk, art wave, blasting rock show ever. Just seeing this show boosted everyone. They empowered their audience, and that means success. Art Brut could kick Satan's ass. That's clear.
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