United Sons of Toil/Control; March 5, 2011; Project Lodge
There couldn’t have been a more perfect time than tonight for the United Sons of Toil to play at the Project Lodge. Even as protests over Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget continued at the Capital, the Project Lodge had collected some of the best signs from the square and displayed them as part of what they called “SolidARTity.” And some of these really were art, not to mention wicked clever. “Who wants a pink slip?” asked one placard, as an actual rose colored undergarment hung from the pole. Another declared “Stop the Imperial Walker” over an imposing Empire war machine any nerd would recognize.
If you know anything about the United Sons of Toil, you know that their message is one of socialism. Equal rights for all people has been the underlying theme of their previous two records and continues with their third full length, the awesomely and extensively titled When the Revolution Comes Everything Will Be Beautiful, which they were celebrating the release of tonight. At least that is what I have gathered the message to be through context clues. I’ll be honest I can’t understand most of what lead singer Russell Hall growls. It doesn’t help that my knowledge of history from ancient times to recent, is terrible. I don’t know what Act he’s referring to in “Repealing the Rumford Fair Housing Act,” but I do know that it is my favorite because I can understand more words than usual (especially the repeated phrase “Television Man”) and because it is super catchy. As befits a CD release show, the trio played the disc in order and then called it a night, ignoring pleas for an encore, much to the dismay of the three enthusiastic fan boys right up front. They leaned into the stage; intent on Hall’s every chord and every shout. It was the first time I’d seen them, and it occurred to me that maybe it was because they were underage, though now that I think about it I’m pretty sure they had beers. It was a short and intense set, but they’d said all they needed to say.
Hall has named Control his favorite local band, so it is no wonder how they ended up on this bill. The trio is propelled by the African-influenced drumming of the always-excellent Luke Bassuener; the rhythm section is rounded out by Matt Rajale who has been laying low since the dissolution of the great New Kentucky Quarter. Their songs are mostly instrumental, with some rhythmic vocals that I wouldn’t call lyrics. I enjoy them, but mostly in small doses. And this opening set was just right.
Afterwards Hall looked surprised when I handed him $8 for the new CD. Even though I’ve seen them many, many times, I think he realizes it isn’t really my thing. Even so, it does have my favorite song on it, and with a gutsy European tour on the horizon they can use the money.
United Sons of Toil