show review: Mouth Captain, Cheer Accident, Guzzlemug – Empty Bottle (150809)

150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

Scrolling through my weekly Empty Bottle shows I saw that Cheer Accident was playing a $5 show.  These guys have been around since 1981.  When I was first exposed to them they it was through some epic 20 minute jazz rock track.  Little did I know that this was the not the same iteration of the band.

150808 Mouth Captain, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Mouth Captain, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

Mouth Captain opened the show and are 2 dudes playing lap guitar with a loop pedal and a drum set, and 1 dude doing video with a giant projector in between the the performers.  The videos fit very well with their music and their style is sort of a slow building, elongated mellow style.  My biggest gripe about this band was they used a grasshopper throughout the films but for some reason they didn’t have a shirt with a grasshopper on it. WTF? It was a fun stop motion character of a once alive grasshopper and would be the perfect cross merchandising tie in.  The music was cool. What’s probably always mentioned is the dudes have some affiliation with Blue Man Group and thus their musicianship reflects that.  They don’t play a lot of shows but if you do see them in the listings for a venue they’re worth checking out.

150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Cheer-Accident, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

This was the Cheer Accident we got on Saturday. It was 4 of them, 2 ‘origianl’ members and 1 gal and 1 guy all wearing track suits, sunglasses and playing keyboards.  There were sporadic times through the set when they’d sprockets and dance, or play trumpet, but it was mostly keys with drum machine.  The music sounded like the 80’s with vocals out of the 60’s.  Their harmonies were very nice and they hit a lot of great 2 part harmonies.  Halfway through the set I moved from the outer edge to the middle of the crowd and had a better time with the music, joke or not.  I think this was more of a performance art piece instead of being a truly musical thing but I don’t really know enough about them to understand what they joke about.  As an outsider watching this based on what I’ve heard previously that’s the unofficial conclusion I cam eup with.  At various quiet moments in the set the main dude spoke, then they all looked out at the crowd while pre-recorded ‘thank you’s’ would play. It was good times.

150808 Guzzlemug, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike
150808 Guzzlemug, Empty Bottle: Photato by Drumnmike

My previous band arbogast had the pleasure of playing with Guzzlemug at Burlington and Ultra Lounge 2 years ago.  When I first saw them their drummer was clean cut and was wearing a beret.  He chewed gum and was ripping through his set with the greatest of ease.  On Saturday he was channeling his inner Andrew WK wearing white with hair down to his shoulders.  The drum mix was quiet which is unusual for the Empty Bottle, which is unfortunate because he’s really good.  The mix would’ve made their set better because the drums, and I may be biased, provide some nice grooves to get you into the weirdness of their music.  If they’re not heard enough you can lose track of the timing and then the guitar and bass are just in sync.  It just provides a nice overall sound.  Guzzlemug is a progressive jazz rock style band, which can go off in out there directions.  They have 17 minute tracks and full releases with just 1 track. It’s a shame this was their last show but sometimes this is the way of progressive bands.  It’s hard for them to catch on but they still leave the world with their music, and hopefully in time it can be found again.  I’d highly recommend their last 2 releases (as those are the only ones I’ve listened to).

show review: Melt Banana, Torche, Hot Nerds at Empty Bottle (7-15-15)

150714 - Melt Banana - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – the 3 members of Melt Banana – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Can the Japanese Noise-Grind Core group Melt Banana bring the metal intensity without a drummer?

150714 - Hot Nerds - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Hot Nerds – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

San Fran natives Hot Nerds opened the show, but we walked in 3/4 through their set.  They played a type of carnival punk with guitar/vocals, acoustic drums and a synthesizer with songs clocking in under 2 minutes.  The vocals had an effect that he didn’t turn off during the entire performance, even when he was talking to the crowd.  The drummer pounded away on the drums with a ferocious intensity found in metal/punk drummers.  The singer was self deprecating about the songs but the group seemed to enjoy themselves. The crowd seemed to be into it.

150714 - Torche - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Torche – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Then Torche showed up.  This is when the place started to fill out a lot more and I had to weasel my way up. The music is heavy, but dude sings.  In the first song Steve was shredding a guitar solo with a leg up on the monitor, letting everyone know they weren’t going to sleep their way through the set.  He’d stick his tongue out and held the guitar up while acknowledging the first few rows of the crowd.  Their music is somewhat rowdy, but not enough that people would go nuts and throw each other around to any of their songs.  At least not on a Tuesday apparently. Or everyone there was older.  They played a good portion of tracks from their newest album, Restarter, but mixed in a good chunk from Harmonion.  Most of their songs are in the mid to uptempo range but the tune Minions really stuck out to me, and hearing it live was awesome.  I’m a fan of the more upbeat energetic songs and listening to this recorded seemed like the song would drag on, but seeing them perform it live gave me a new appreciation for it.  A crowd favorite was Letting Go,  but once they were Kicking in you could tell that was also one of the tunes that got the crowd hooked on the band. They played mostly straight through for their entire set, with just a few pauses to check the tuning, but even that was quick and they were appreciative that everyone was there to watch them, not see them tune, get a drink of water and dick around. Not sure if they played this song, but it’s one of my favorites.

150715 - Melt Banana Selfie - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Melt Banana Selfie – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

Melt Banana was a band I haven’t been able to truly appreciate until seeing them live.  I’ll listen to them on occasion but to see them live was a whole new experience.  Being a weak ass old man I figured I’d see about 20 minutes and just leave, but once they started playing She had such an amazing energy that she brought to the stage it was hard to tear myself apart.  As a drummer I’m of course saddened when a band uses a drum machine, although I can definitely understand the why behind it.  Heck Aaron and I moved forward as a 2 piece because we were done with guitar players for a short while.  That has passed.  But the drum machine was great, and to have actually seen someone perform what they had tracked would’ve made it that much better.  Aaron mentioned that he saw them with Dave Witte and I’m not sure if I would’ve been able to handle it if that happened.

150715 - Melt Banana - Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike
150715 – Melt Banana – Empty Bottle:photo by Drumnmike

The movement of the singer Yasuko Onuki was electrifying, and the coordination between her and Ichirou Agata and the fluidity between songs made them playing with a drum machine and samples that much more impression.  Save for a few occasions they weren’t concerned with walking over to line up the computer to start a song, but instead would have synced arm swings and starts, as if they’ve played these songs thousands of times to perfect them.