Clem Snide/Plants and Animals/Heligoats; March 26, 2009; High Noon Saloon
I declare false advertising. This was not Clem Snide. A band that does not contain multi-instrumentalist Pete Fitzpatrick might just as well be Eef Barzelay and band. For years the skinny, oddly handsome Pete with his euphonium and banjo was the only constant member of the band other than Eef. Occasionally he would get to sing a song, like the insanely catchy “Mnemonic Hordes,” from his other project the Pee Wee Fist, and yeah, sometimes he got a little carried away with the banjo feedback, but he was essential to that band. My protest is not against the show, which was pretty terrifically entertaining due to the fact that Eef seems to be on some sort of narcotics which made him unrelentingly goofy, it’s just not Clem Snide.
The band’s just released record Happy Bird, I’ve heard, was actually recorded several years ago and sat on the shelf until now. It lists four members, Pete and his bassist cousin Brendan, but it doesn’t compare to their previous record, the uniformly excellent The End of Love. Eef’s most recent solo effort is actually a more worthy successor. Still, playing under the Clem Snide moniker gave him the freedom to dip deeper into the band catalog than he would in a solo show, despite the fact that he wrote all the songs to begin with.
That actually made the whole thing worthwhile for me, as I got to hear my two absolute favorite Clem Snide songs of all time. The slinky “Something Beautiful” with its Sheldon-esque list of things “you make me wanna” do (like not turn on the windshield wipers when the rain begins to fall) and the insanely catchy “Ice Cube” which may be one of the best two minute songs ever, were worth any sort of name-based deception. The night ended with the terrific “I Love the Unknown” which could be the band’s theme song as I can’t remember a show where they didn’t play it.
It wasn’t easy getting to that point in the night though. The interesting thing about middle band Plants and Animals was that they were French Canadian, which really isn’t much when you get right down to it. As I found myself standing through one endless song after another I wondered how I had been tricked into seeing a jam band. It was easier to see what Eef saw in opener Heligoats. The solo performer had Eef’s delivery and knack for putting together interesting combinations of words, and his ridiculous introductions in which he gave a plot line that, as far as I could tell, had nothing to do with the song itself were interesting, but ultimately the songs weren’t as good as the sum of their parts.
I missed ya, Pete, but at least I got to hear “Ice Cube.”
Plants & Animals