A Sunday Spent With the Locals, 6/14/09

by Gordon Elgart on June 15, 2009

Just one of the local bands that made for an entertaining day.

A Current Affair was just one of the local bands that made for an entertaining day.

This past weekend, I spent my Bay Area Sunday hanging out, drinking some beers, and seeing a seemingly random assortment of four local bands. When I was seeing the second one (an Alameda combo playing covers of Finnish pop songs), I decided that blogging about it was in order. Before the night was over, I’d also be seeing a Christian emo band from Fresno, and a local ska-core band of Asian teenagers who referred to their trumpet player as “the white guy.” The day started, however, with an insanely talented instrumental power trio.

We Be the Echo refer to themselves as progressive experimental metal, which I think describes them pretty well.  What that doesn’t say is that they’re a really fantastic progressive experimental metal band.  Each of them is a virtuouso, and the material is a whole lot of fun.  From a song featuring the classic Wilhelm scream to a cover of the Knight Rider theme song, there’s a surprise around every corner.  Make sure to catch them this Friday night at the Hemlock Tavern, where they’ll be debuting their new CD.

Later in the afternoon, I headed out to Rooster’s Roadhouse in Alameda to see a bill that my friend Nate had helped put together.  He asked me to come support the show, and since I’m a curious sort, I don’t need to know much about who I’m seeing to make the trip.  So off I went.  To start, I’d like to talk about the venue.  I had never heard of this place before, and it’s a really good venue.  The staff is friendly, the sound system is good, and there is tasty cheap food for sale.  If you’re looking a place to book a show, I recommend it.

The first band on the bill was Kippis, which is the Finnish word for “cheers.”  If you’re drinking a toast in Finland, say it and score points!  The band was playing their first ever gig, but these were clearly not musicians playing their first ever gig.  What they were playing was mainly covers of classic Finnish pop songs with a couple of Swedish songs thrown in for good measure.  The Swedish songs were Abba covers, arranged to really rock out.  I remarked to a friend of theirs that they could get gigs just playing hard rock Abba covers, but that’s not in the cards for them.  I talked with the guitarist Kurt at length, and he told me about a project he is doing, performing an original rock opera!  Music nerds such as myself love rock operas, so needless to say I’m going to be looking out for the debut of this piece.

The next band was A Current Affair who are a Christian screamo band from Fresno, but this is too simplistic and unfair.  What they are is a rock band with lyrics informed by the atttiudes of Christianity.  It’s not “Jesus music.”  What was immediately impressive about this group was their amazing level of professionalism.  From their merch setup (plenty of shirts, lights to show them off, and a credit card machine) to the speed with which they set up their gear, every thing these guys did was class A.  And even though they were playing to less than 50 people in a roadside bar on a Sunday evening, they played as if they were playing the Ernie Ball Stage at Warped Tour.  By the end of the night, they had definitely gained new fans and sold enough merch to make it to their next gig.  If they treat every small show in this same way, eventually they’ll find themselves playing bigger shows.   Recommend this group to your friends who are into this scene, and your friends will thank you.

The final act of my day of local goodness was a band whose name I kept forgetting.  It’s Gadgetron Armor Vendor, a local group of ska-loving teenagers.  They had brought the biggest group of fans with them, most likely their high school friends and family.  I was really impressed with their skills and their energy, in particular the drummer who goes by the name “Lunchbox.”  I even went up to him after the show and said, “Listen.  You’re great.  Don’t let anyone stop you by saying that there’s no need in this world for a ska drummer.  Keep at it.”  Unfortunately, the demos on their MySpace page don’t show off how entertaining they are.  Will ska ever come back in a big way?  If so, there’s room for The G.A.V. at the kids table.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel June 16, 2009 at 8:02 am

If it were truly Class A, I would expect it to be on par with a San Jose Giants game. Did the band have a beer batter, and did it strike out?

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Gordon Elgart June 16, 2009 at 8:25 am

I paid full price for my beer, so I guess that he didn’t strike out.

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