Monday, August 31, 2009

Live: Ex-Humans, Impediments, Buzzer

Despite the fact that Blank Dogs cancelled their Don Pedro's show (or as would make more sense, were never really booked there), I decided to stop by, mostly because the band name "Ex-Humans" kept making me think of "Subhumans," which was the name of not one but two excellent early punk bands.

When I arrived, Impediments were on stage. They played your typical 60's garage rock spiffied up with some updated Stooges and 70's hard rock ideas. Though this equation has been tried too many times to count, Impediments were saved from total redundancy by quality songwriting. It's not a band to freak out about - it's not ultimately much more than an amped-up bar band, but it's a enjoyable way to spend forty minutes. [MySpace]

Next up was the slightly more buzzed-about Buzzer, who drew an audience of a few dozen loyal and excited fans. And I couldn't figure out why. Working along the same lines as Impediments, Buzzer fell far short in songcraft - I couldn't remember one song from the next even a few minutes after they stopped playing.

The only song I do remember featured cringe-worthy lyrics about "young girls," which had a cheap rhyme scheme and related some chauvinistic insights that most seventeen-year-old jerks think are super awesome. Not to mention, singing about "young girls" sounds pretty gross and creepy, no matter what the colloquial meaning. (Whether the band meant this song seriously or "ironically," this all holds true.)

But, especially since most of the lyrics were not so clearly audible, the band's worst offenses were sonic. Their "melodies" were tedious and apparently without thought. On the other hand, the band had put a lot of thought into their arrangement. Unfortunately for them and us, quantity of thought does not equal quality, and the arrangements only further muddled the weak song structures. Frustratingly, the members of Buzzer are all talented instrumentalists, with especially notable, involved guitar solos. Even this wasn't much of an asset, though, since the solos and other parts taking advantage of the group's technical proficiency slipped right into one rock cliche after another. [MySpace]

Obviously, I was thankful when Buzzer wrapped it up and Ex-Humans took control of the situation. And indeed, the show got a lot better from there on out. I was a little disappointed that Ex-Humans weren't doing anything further afield musically, instead sticking to the same overgrazed pastures of garage/punk that the other bands of the night already illustrated.

Still, Ex-Humans stood out, especially in comparison to Buzzer, for a number of reasons. Perhaps most importantly was the band's character on stage - the threesome was spirited but down-to-earth (unlike Buzzer). Their mean banter was good-natured and entertaining, and they and their audience seemed to share the experience of the show - which is how true punk shows should be.

Also, like Impediments, Ex-Humans are talented songwriters. Their songs are simple but engaging. If the band's recordings are as good as the live show, I could definitely see myself rocking out to their record at home (like a huge dork, yes). Once again, it's not a band to get too freaked out about, but it's certainly one you can love.

And respect especially for the drummer, who, it seemed, was playing after having just been hit by a car. Though evidently in no small amount of pain by the end of the set, he saw the show through, and put his all into it. That's dedication. [MySpace]

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