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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting Off the Couch - by The Dark Pickle

Show Review: January 8th
Venue: Ramakin's
By: The Dark Pickle

Tuesday night is usually one I spend laying around the house. Seriously, what ever goes on on a Tuesday night? The 8th of January this year was an exception and proved to me my small mindedness. I heard from my friend Chuck that his band, Botox Party, was playing at a place down near VCU called Ramakin’s. I had never been to Ramakin’s before, but I did know the building… I used to feast upon huge chicken burritos from the building’s former tenant, Taqueria Loco. I have to admit, I was at first skeptical as to how a show could be pulled in off in that space, being what I would politely describe as “intimate”. However, as I was to soon find out, it is more than just possible. It was happening, full on.

The show started with what turned out to be the best surprise of the evening. A band that I did not even know was on the bill came on first, Make Do and Mend from Hartford, Connecticut. They tore into their first song, “Insomniac Jams”, with an awesome energy and sound that I first took for being like Hot Water Music (in the best possible way). Through their set, though, they proved that they were more than a one-tune band. Though their set was short and sweet, it demonstrated some distinct sounds, which led me to wonder if everyone in the band pitched in on the songwriting. Equal parts kind-of- dark pop punk and post hardcore, with elements reminiscent of some favorites from my teenage years such as Face to Face and Samiam, I really enjoyed these guys. Bought their cd. Would see again.

The next band, The Holdup, apparently a local favorite, drew the strongest crowd of the evening. It’s easy to see why. They have a sound that I could only think to describe as “party punk”. Kind of how when Black Flag’s “TV Party” comes on: everyone in the room who knows the song starts nodding their head to the opening bassline and, soon enough, somebody is pumping their fist in the air and singing along. That was how it seemed with these guys. Everybody in the band seemed to be having a good time. They worked the crowd with some funny intro banter which immediately brought to mind one of my old favorites from the 80’s, The Dead Milkmen. Fun set all around. Oh, I almost forgot… lead guitar player is pretty sick. There should’ve been more solos.

Band number three was 556, form Brooklyn. Now, I take back everything I said about Make Do and Mend sounding even remotely like Hot Water Music. 556 really sounded like Hot Water Music. They reinforced this perception by playing two HWM covers in their set. Don’t get me wrong, I particularly enjoyed “Rooftops”, but it was almost like a seeing tribute band.

The second surprise of the evening came when the lead singer of 556 gave up his guitar and took a seat on the drum throne for the next band, Local Tough Guy. Though he was certainly capable in his role as a guitar player/frontman, he had way more energy behind the drums. These guys played the kind of punk that I would expect from a band out of Boston. A little harder than their Brooklyn counterparts, a little tougher sounding (my NY friends will kick my ass for saying that).

It was getting late. Some of the lamer folks had already headed home for the evening. I was determined, however, to stick it out to hear Botox Party. Though Danny describes their sound as “shit rock”, I always enjoy their distinctive riff-heavy pop/metal/punk sound. Definitely, they’re not into doing a sound or genre. A song can go seamlessly from a super-poppy lead riff , a la Blink 182, and into a full on metal blast beat and back and have you bobbing your head the whole time. Chuck, formerly of I Live With Zombies (are they really gone forever?), has developed a style that incorporates some elements of his older efforts, but he is definitely evolving as a songwriter.

Their set was great, as usual, but as the hour wore closer and closer to bedtime and Botox Party wrapped it up, my eyelids grew heavy. The next morning I was reminded of why I usually sit around on my couch and go to sleep early on Tuesday nights. Luckily, it wasn’t anything that a big ass cup of espresso couldn’t fix. The experience left me determined to go check out more weeknight shows, though. There’s too much good music going on than you can cram into two days of the week.


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