Saturday, September 13, 2008

Midwest Beat/National Beekeepers Society/Cribshitter (triple release show)/Whatfor; September 13, 2008; The Frequency

This may have been a first. Even with four local bands on the bill the last of them, Midwest Beat, announced their final song at 1:30 AM. Usual Frequency timing would have dictated that they had only just started their set at that time, but there they were leaving the stage well before bar time. So what to do? Well, come back and start playing a lot of obscure Nugget-esque covers of course. The extra set was just frosting on the cake of what may have been the most enjoyable set I have seen the Beat play. After several false alarms, tonight was finally the release show for their 7 inch vinyl, a record already released last year on CD. Hopefully one of these days they will get around to releasing the record they have been recording with Kyle Motor. While Motor assured me several times that it is totally kickass, he seems to doubt most of us will ever hear it. I’m not sure why, but it would be a shame because the songs he identified as having been recently recorded are pretty terrific.

The usual trend at the Frequency seems to see the crowd thinning after midnight, but tonight it actually seemed to expand just before the Beat played their set. In addition to Motor, who spent much of the set bemoaning the sale of “Airwolf,” the van that was supposed to be the Motorz touring vehicle, several other folks showed up seemingly for the last band. Pete suggested he would love to get a copy of their record into the hands of Little Steven, so convinced was he that the champion of the garage band would be able to break them on a national level. It’d be worth a try, their brand of rough and tumble pop is certainly easy to like. Of course, it would be hard to dislike any band with a guy who only plays the tambourine.

Openers Whatfor certainly had their fans even though they were the only band not celebrating a new release, having just put out their very entertaining debut Sooner Late than Never only a handful of weeks before. The band consists of the core trio of Sleeping in the Aviary with Michael Sienkowski stepping from behind the drum kit to front the band, playing a little keyboard on the way. His band seems equally steeped in the sounds of the 60’s, though more of the pop variety than the underground garage type. All three of them are equally entertaining no matter what position they play. Guitarist Elliot Kozel (lead singer of SitA) contributes backing vocals in addition to stylish headwear. Tonight he was sporting a Viking helmet which was not only dehorned several times during the set, but also made the rounds of the fans right in front of the stage. Sienkowski hinted this may be the last show for awhile, I hope that isn’t true.

The strangely fascinating Cribshitter was up next, celebrating the release of Cry a Little Rainbow, a 30 song $5 epic that tries to capture the weirdness that happens on stage. Lead singer Diaper Daniels told me once that a fan told him the reason he came to the shows was the same reason he watched NASCAR, he was just waiting for the crashes. That fan has to be disappointed as of late, because the last couple Cribshitter shows I’ve seen have run fairly smoothly, which isn’t always easy when your set uses a number of samples and a Power Point presentation. Working without the graphics tonight, they instead substituted a fog machine and more lights than I’ve seen used at the relatively new club.

I’m not quite sure why I like them, but I’m not the only one. Justin Bricco, the Blueheels animated guitarist, claims they are the only real band in town. Sure, their songs can be pretty offensive, both lyrically (“War Torn Vaginer” and “She Charges $25 for a $5 Blowjob”) and musically (the bursts of noise and screaming that punctuate “Jared’s Different Around Girls”) and sometimes both (the ragged screamer “We Fuckin’ Suck”), but the cover of Tom Petty’s “Yer So Bad” and a handful of genuinely melodic songs make up for it. Then again, maybe their offensiveness is part of their charm (the rest is tuba player Danika). All I know is I no longer avoid them.

Third on the bill and also featuring a new release was the National Beekeepers Society. I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen them since they opened for Head of Femur in the basement. To be fair, they don’t play that many shows, and I have gone out of my way to see lead singer Nick Whetro do his solo thing, the intriguingly titled Icarus Himself. In addition to featuring NBS’s songs, it also includes Daniels on a number of songs. While the Beekeepers debut CD wore its influences proudly on its sleeve (Weezer and Pavement the most obvious), the solid sophomore record is more subtle, blending those bands into their catchy pop. Whetro doesn’t have an amazing voice, but neither does Stephen Malkmus, it is, however, perfect for their tales of disillusionment and angst. And then there’s that moustache… it’s tempting to call it cheesy, and it might be on anyone else, but on him it’s somehow gallant, almost as if he’s going to save us all from generic, boring music. I feel safer already.

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