Show Review: Schande / Silent Pictures / Bam! Bam! at Hemlock, 7/30/11

by Marie Carney on August 3, 2011


Alexander Mann of Silent Pictures

Saturday Night’s show at the Hemlock was a reunion of sorts.  Most people there probably didn’t realize that each band was a new project of a former member of the queercore band BoySkout.  What that gave the audience was a varied show with seasoned musicians that somehow fit together just right.

First up was Bam! Bam!, a two piece of drums and guitar.  They played straight from the 90’s riot-grrrl DIY indie rock, though on the softer and more experimental side, but the rawness of the music kept the feeling there.  Plus, Bam! Bam! shone the most when they were playing the music hard.  All the more upbeat and driving songs were the ones that got my blood flowing.  My only complaint being that there weren’t more of those fast songs in the set.  They particularly showcased the drummers energy and skill and would have helped hold my attention.

Bam! Bam! at work

The second band, Silent Pictures, was much more controlled and polished than Bam! Bam!.  With five members, 2 guitars, keyboard, bass and drums, it gave them a lot more opportunities for dynamics, which they used to their benefit.  For most of the songs they had their own sound, some kind of psychedelic dark rock.  There were a couple songs though where the songs could have come straight off of The Cure’s Disintegration.  Seeing as this is in my top five favourite albums, I’m not going to call it a negative.  Especially since sometimes it is nice to have a spark of familiarity in an otherwise vast landscape of unfamiliar sounds.

Silent Pictures: Rene Love, Cynthia Shiraev, David Alexander and the shadow of Alexander Mann

Mostly though, Silent Pictures showcased the skills of five excellent musicians.  It is always nice to see a band with no glaring weak spots.  Vocals were mostly done by frontman/guitarist Alexander Mann, but bassist Rene Love skillfully took over a few times and keyboardist Cynthia Shiraev also took a turn at the mic.  They all seemed to work together beautifully and made the hypnotic music just that much more enjoyable.

Jen Schande of Schande

When Schande came on stage I was briefly disappointed. From Jason Leroy’s review of their 7″ I was expecting some excellent female fronted indie rock but their first song was on the mellower side and sung by the male guitarist. But that was just the beginning because when Jen Schande took over the lead vocals it was exactly the kind of punky-fierce female indie rock I wanted to hear. The energy in the music was high and lifted my spirits. At this point in the evening the back room of Hemlock was a sauna, which was doing equal parts grossing me out and making me very tired. So thank god for Schande’s driving energy. All five band members were excellent and managed to make me forget the tiredness and the sweat of other people that I was breathing in. The best part was that they did it without having to run around the stage like fools or tell stupid jokes. They just gave a quality interesting performance and that was just enough.

The last two songs were intense driving jam-fests with sparse vocals, which is usually something I hate, but in the hands of Schande it was just right. Of course, the theatrics came out a little for this part, including Jen playing a guitar solo with a mic stand.

Jen Schande's mic-stand moves

All in all it was an excellent ending to a wonderful evening of music.  It’s not often that you can go to a show and leave saying that all three bands were good.  And I thank the music gods, and some good planning, for that.

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