Blueheels/Deleted Scenes/Pezzetino; June 30, 2009; Frequency
When a band generates new songs as quickly as the Blueheels do, a live record hardly seems like a logical next step. Along with the EP, live CDs are typically used as a stop gap measure when the time between releases might otherwise be too long. The public has a short attention span and will forget any band that doesn’t demand their attention. But if that isn’t the reason, then why release a bunch of different versions of songs that you’ve already released once when you have a whole ‘nother batch, probably two batches, just waiting to take into the studio? However, in the case of the Blueheels the fact is that the live show has put them where they are today. Tireless touring of northern and central Wisconsin and energetic, addictive shows have made them a bar favorite from Madison to Appleton. The studio CDs are great, but a live show shows their true colors.
The CD was recorded over the course of two nights last November at Cranky Pat’s in Neenah, pretty much home base for the band in their takeover of the state. The song that supplied the title “Twist and Toil” wasn’t on their last CD, perhaps because they were saving it for this release or perhaps because this song in particular requires audience participation. The chanted chorus of “Get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep” has been erroneously compared to the Bottle Rockets “Gotta Get Up.” Yes, the sentiment is the same, but the songs sound nothing alike. And it isn’t like the Bottle Rockets invented getting up and going to work. On this CD the crowd makes themselves heard, putting some real volume behind their effort.
I’m guessing the crowd at tonight’s show celebrating the release of the live CD wasn’t as big as the one in Neenah, but they certainly knew what to do. It helped that the co-writer of the chorus the erstwhile Christopher Billingsley, who since leaving Madison has been rumored to be living in Seattle, Haiti and Key West, was in attendance tonight to lead us. I recognized several people in the crowd, but the band’s Fox Valley contingent was notably absent, perhaps the victim of the midweek show. In fact I was surprised there weren’t more people there in general.
The Blueheels aren’t as omnipresent as they used to be, and tonight’s bill was particularly tempting, both factors which should have resulted in a larger crowd. Not that it mattered; the band threw themselves into the set just like always. A good chunk of the songs were from that new batch, many I’d heard and at least one I hadn’t. The night ended with a song about seven skinny cats and seven fat ones. Robby’s yowl imitating the skinny cats was adorable and hilarious, not to mention stuck in head for days. I sure wish that song was on the CD, I’d make everyone around me crazy. As time goes by, keyboardist Teddy Pedriana’s addition to the band makes more and more sense. He is essential to many of the new songs, and rumor has it that what he is doing for the next record is going to blow my mind.
The particularly alluring part of this bill was the return of the Deleted Scenes to Madison. The DC band won a lot of new fans on their last visit to Madison back in January. Their difficult to describe sound has an Eighties appeal married to a DIY sensibility. I wish their recent release Birdseed Shirt sounded as good as they do live, but since it doesn’t I wish they came to Madison more. After the affection and enthusiasm shown them by Teddy’s girlfriend Steph, maybe they will. I had decided the first time I saw Pezzetino that she needed to be better or weirder, until then I’ll be spending her sets in the bar.