12 August 2008

Show report: 8/11/2008 at the Ottobar in Baltimore

Racing Kites, Lannen Fall, Go Crash Radio, Mercy Mercedes, and The Hint at the Ottobar in Baltimore

I made it to the show way early (under 3 hours door to door when I had allowed more for a transit delay), so I sat on bit of hill next to the area where the bands were unloading their gear and worked on Shelter From The Storm. I made some good progress on that and walked away with a solid draft, so that was the productive part of the night. I got some mildly puzzled looks from the people around, but no one said anything.

The band members all seemed very nice. They hugged people a lot, which is sweet. I made a few observations on band fashion. The headbands? No, please, just don't. Not working on any combination of head and hair. Lowslung pants? Just about at their limit of lowness unless they go to hanging them from suspenders or Prince Albert rings.

I bought T-shirts for the junior dudes. I got to transact with the lead singers of Mercy Mercedes and The Hint, and they were both very nice. (Nice was the theme of the evening.) I spent out my pocket on those, so I didn't get any CDs. The shirts were gelt for leaving the dudes out of the adventure, so that was the priority.

To me, the bands were in two tiers. This is not me saying anything bad about any of them--if I had just seen the Racing Kites, Lannen Fail, and Go Crash Radio, I would have walked away satisfied. They had a lot of energy and got a good response from the people who were there when they were on.

Mercy Mercedes and The Hint were a cut above, though. They had a much more pulled-together sound and more polished stage presentation. I have never heard MM before, so I don't know their songs. I am interested and will probably be getting their CDs when I can. The Hint did the songs I would have expected. I would be a crap reviewer, bcause all I can think to add is that they played well and gave a good show. They did some fun covers. The crowd was really up for them, so that helped.

And there was a lot of nice hugging when the band members were wandering around the club when they weren't playing.

I thought it was very interesting to see a show where everything was so unstructured and informal. There wasn't really any backstage or crews or security. (I felt like I ought to lend a hand unloading eqipment.) The bands were hanging around together all around the club. It made me think of how hard these guys are trying to go from the kind of band life with all the friends and wandering around and hugging to the kind of life that seems to eat people up.

I was also thinking about what made Mercy Mercedes and The Hint better than the others. It was an accumulation of things. My father used to say that good songs plus good playing plus good energy is like 2+2+2=6, but good arranging makes it into 2 x 2 x 2 = 8. That's part of it. I also think that the better bands had more variety from song to song and more complexity within songs, plus they could move the focus of the song around among the band members better. And a more solid rhythmic center and catchy hooks. Never underestimate the power of the hook!

After the show, I just walked back down to Penn Station and waited for the trains to start up again in the morning. That was a long night. Total time door-to-door: 8 hours.

Racing Kites on MySpace Lannen Fall on MySpace Go Crash Radio on MySpace Mercy Mercedes on MySpace The Hint on MySpace

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