Show Review: The Bruises with the Hot Toddies and Bam!Bam! at Slim’s, 1/31/14

by Joel Edelman on February 1, 2014

Photos by Dakin Hardwick

Photos by Dakin Hardwick

In a word, this show was evolutionary. Attendees were first treated to a newer duo. Next, an established trio played new songs and old favorites. And finally we had a four-piece playing its last show ever.

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Bam!Bam!, more than just a Family Guy punchline, took 30 minutes of our lives and performed 8 songs of basic chords and beats. The bass drum had a cassette and crossbones on it. The garage sound that these two women put together would have sounded best on a Memorex, but we were getting it live, and that was also OK.

The drummer was intense, which means the guitarist can goof off if she wants to. I could sort of tell she would like to. The first thing she needs to do is get some stickers for her guitar.

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The band’s sound itself is in its infancy, but it sounded fine. Some guitar riffs were similar to Bettie Serveert. The melodies often reminded me of Oregon greats Joy Pop Turbo. Other times they channeled Bratmobile. And yet other tracks were more upbeat like some Bangs classics. Maggie Vail would kill to be like these rock stars. A self-professed new track was about airplanes and had more of a jangle. All it needs a keyboard, and then it would be awesome.

The obligatory cover was the Lemonheads’ “It’s a Shame About Ray.” ┬áCovers tend to provide a window into a band’s influences, and this was no different, really. A lot of potential with this act. Looking forward to seeing what comes next.

After some setup time, it was time for one of my favorite acts. One of the first articles I wrote for Spinning Platters was a review of a Hot Toddies show. Four years later, nobody Irishes up my coffee like the Hot Toddies.

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The audience received a nice variety of old and new tracks, 12 in all, spanning nearly 50 minutes. The band started off with “Hey Hey” from their latest EP, Bottoms Up.

The Hot Toddies make me feel like one of those deadbeat dads who only sees his kids once a year. This is probably my fourth show of theirs, despite my unconditional love and adoration for the group. When I see them now, there is a level of polish and confidence that was less apparent before. They’re all grown up. It’s like watching a whole new band.

There were a few sound issues during “Hey Hey” so the gals provided an extended, Pink Floyd-style, intro to “Boys on Bikes” to get things sorted out. This was the epitome of an accidental discovery of greatness.

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Classics like “Motorscooter,” “Jaguar Love,” and “Seattle” sounded great despite the absence of former member and keyboardist Jessica, who is in Thailand teaching children English. That’s just the type of people the Hot Toddies are. By the way, “Seattle” is why I am rooting for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

The band played some new stuff as well, of which some had more of a country sound. They looked very relaxed during this part of the performance so they’re clearly taking this new direction very seriously.

Before the show, I had an extended discussion with my photographer about my favorite Go-Go’s song, “Skidmarks on My Heart.” Well, guess what the Hot Toddies covered? Life just doesn’t get any better.

I noticed that the drummer was using the Bruises’ kit. Maybe she can get a good deal on it after the show.

After a 30-minute break, the Bruises came on at 11:15 and played for nearly an hour. I don’t quite get how a local act who has been playing for more than a decade could have escaped my radar, but that’s exactly what happened. Clearly I’ve been living under a rock.

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So for those of you just tuning in, the Bruises were a four-piece. The sound was late ’90s, early 2000s indie rock, like the Reputation or Remy Zero with a Pat Benatar edge. Fittingly I was wearing an old Jamba Juice T-shirt from the same era.

There were two key people to observe during this set: the drummer, who was an absolute dynamo, and this fan in a walker who was right in front. When I get to be his age, I hope I can still headbang too. He was the best. He was there the whole night for the other bands, too.

Before ending with “So Alive,” near-tearful goodbyes were given. Not having an encore was guaranteed because they admitted they had practiced no other songs. Not since discovering Carissa’s Wierd years after they broke up have I been so happy to discover an act after the fact. They were that good.

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Maybe in a few years a new band can open, with Bam! Bam! in the middle and the Hot Toddies doing their last show ever. Hopefully it will be 30 years from now so I can have another 30 years of the Hot Toddies.

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