Noise Pop Show Review: Dizzy Balloon, The Hounds Below, Visqueen and Laarks at Bottom of the Hill, 2/28/10

by Gordon Elgart on March 1, 2010

I forgot my camera at home, so instead you get this reference to Bottom of the Hill Sundays of the past.

The annual Sunday day show at Bottom of the Hill is an odd little affair. The sunlight coming through the window feels jarring, for sure, but what was odd about this year’s version was the crowd. This was an all-ages show featuring a headliner made up of young boys playing sunny rock, and that brought a crowd of admiring teenage girls to the venue. Mix them with the usual Sunday afternoon crowd of hungover aging hipsters Noise Pop veterans, and what do you get?

The first band on the bill were Laarks, a combo from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I’d say this band is most definitely a “band to watch.” This means that their songs are really well crafted, and the band is very talented. What it doesn’t mean is that they’re a polished, ass kicking machine. Give them time. The drummer particularly dominated some passages with insane fills, and a couple of song codas where he basically played a drum solo over the rest of the band. But then there were moments where he missed a transition and had to skip a beat to catch back up, drawing furtive glances from the lead singer/keyboard player.

Because all ages crowds show up on time, and watch bands (rather than stand in the back drinking and talking about the other shows they’ve seen or are going to see), Laarks got a great reaction from the crowd. It must be nice for a band starting out to have such an enthusiastic response. I don’t expect it will be the same at some bar in Phoenix, so I hope they enjoyed it.

Next up was Visqueen. There’s a pretty good chance that anyone over 30 (like me) was there to see Visqueen (like me). It was great to see Rachel Flotard back on stage leading her band through a set of soaring power pop, but it was way too short. She didn’t even have enough time to make fun of Ben! Whether the set was cut short due to technical issues (the bass wasn’t working right away), time issues (they were driving back to Seattle yesterday) or by choice (couldn’t they have played even one song off of King Me?), I don’t know. What I do know is that they rock, Rachel sounds amazing, and I’ll go see them again when they return. Hopefully it won’t be another five-plus years.

Visqueen’s nod to the young crowd was to invite a boy (maybe nine) to stand on stage at his first rock show. She also called out a group of girls celebrating an 11th birthday. “Eleven is the best birthday,” Rachel assured her, although she would probably say that for any year. This was not just all ages, it was defiantly so. There were five-year-old boys on parents’ shoulders who were rockin’ out pretty hard.

I’m not saying I was a hungover Noise Pop veteran, but I did spend most of The Hounds Below set in the courtyard, listening through the wall, and peeking in through the window. Their bluesy rock carries pretty well, and when they played a cover of “Where Is My Mind?” I decided I should go see what they look like.  It was four scraggly dudes and one tall hot redhead playing bass in a tight purple dress.  She stands out on stage, believe me. As for the music, it was pretty standard fare, but played well. The all-ages crowd ate it up. If I were in a band, I’d want to play for this kind of crowd. They’re listening, and they scream. Awesome.

The loudest screams, however, were reserved for headliner Dizzy Balloon. They had spent much of the show in the courtyard in front of a Dizzy Balloon banner having their pictures taken with their fans. One girl held up a sign “Dizzy B Marry Me.” I think she should probably pick one of them as her target as opposed to trying to marry the whole band.

The band has a super happy bouncy presence on stage. The keyboard player has definitely spent some time watching RV of Honeycut play. The rhythm guitarist bounced around, all smiles, like a Disney rocker. The whole band sounded good, except for one small but important thing. The singer has the most obnoxious voice I’ve heard in ages. Clearly an affectation, he just squeezes out his vocals through only a portion of his vocal chords, maybe to match some style that he thinks is in. It’s awful and hard to listen to.

The young crowd, though? They loved it, every minute of it. And in the end, that means more than what any aging hipster Noise Pop veteran music blogger thinks.

Gordon Elgart

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

More Posts - Website - Twitter

Read Also:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: