Friday, June 13, 2008

The Low Czars/The Midwest Beat/The Nice Outfit; June 13, 2008; High Noon Saloon

I’ve been to CD release shows where the CDs just arrived that day, I’ve been to ones where they are due in the day after, but this is the first time I have been to a CD release show where the CD doesn’t even exist. Apparently the show had been booked back when the Midwest Beat thought they would have their debut full length ready in time, instead they weren’t much closer than they had been when they booked the show. Not that it mattered, I would have come to this show either way. It is hard to deny the Beat’s swirling pop-rock, and the rest of the line-up was just as solid.

Back in the 90’s I was a fan of the Milwaukee band Trolley. They played power pop that occasionally drifted off into surf guitar land, and they were a fixture on Milwaukee’s fest stages every summer. A combination of fewer trips to Milwaukee on my end and fewer shows played on their end meant that I hadn’t seen them in years, but their name would pop up every once in awhile, and I would see their guitarist Terry Hackbarth with his distinctive long graying hair at shows (identifying him as “that Trolley guy”). Turns out the Nice Outfit is the front half of that band- Terry and vocalist/guitarist Paul Wall, who was wearing what was indeed a nice outfit (and yes, in this case it is OK to call what you’re wearing an outfit). As far as I can tell, they have carried over Trolley’s rock sensibilities with fewer instrumentals, win-win, and they were a good fit for this bill.

The Midwest Beat was up next, even though they were hypothetically the headliner. The logic being that the Low Czars were playing a wedding that day and they would need time to get there (or perhaps sober up). The Beat plays an infectious cotton candy rock, so delicious while they are playing but disappearing at the end of their set. I have seen them a couple times before and my reaction is always the same, “wow, that was good, but why can’t I remember any of their songs?” The band is fronted by Ryan Adams, as unassuming a leader as the other Adams is ridiculous. Next to Matt Joyce, the band’s more gregarious and impressively facial-haired singer, he tends to go unnoticed. Still, I suspect that he is the soul of this band, and I have no doubt that once I have a disc in hand, whenever that is, those songs will solidify in my head rather than drifting away.

Even after what must have already been a long day the Low Czars went on well after midnight and played a great sounding set. Tonight featured more of the multi-talented Ropin’ Rodeo Nate than usual, giving him several songs to show off his sax skills on. I was actually looking forward to a drunken Czars set, bassist James in particular is even more hilarious after a few drinks (especially Tito’s vodka), but it seems they had drank in moderation during the day and had no problem closing out the night with their delightful blend of obscure and unknown songs. In fact, only Bob’s graceful memory lapse on one tune, which found him singing “I don’t remember the words,” indicated anything out of the ordinary. Thanks guys for again proving to me exactly how little I know.

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