Monday, December 14, 2009

Live: Stupid Party, Shellshag, Slingshot Dakota

When: 11/28
Where: Death By Audio

What more can I say about Stupid Party? They are too cool for words. They bang out punky rock and roll with raw energy and a fuck-all attitude. There has been one change, and it's a biggie - the addition of a second guitarist. Ultimately, it wasn't nearly as disastrous as it could have been. Adding a member usually seems to cramp everyone's style, but from what I could gather in this situation, it just helped jack everything up a level. I'm not sold yet - I can still see it weighing the band down and costing them spontaneity. I'll check them out again soon and report back. [MySpace]

I'd never heard Slingshot Dakota before and frankly, they confused the hell out of me. There's a dude who plays drums and a chick who plays keyboards and they both sing (though she sings more) and the whole concept provoked my immediate disdain cause I like guitar and keyboards are usually cheesy. And here's the thing - it was cheesy! The band just played sappy, over-the-top pop songs. Yuck! Right?

But for some reason, I really liked it. The band slammed out their songs with passionate disregard for precision. Each number came out as one simple, sloppy, heartfelt wail. Carly Commando's voice is perfect, tuneful and strong, but with raw, punk-rock abandon. The music as a whole comes unrefined, unpolished and desperate from the bands' hearts to your ears.

The only real problem came between songs. This is one of those bands that thinks it's a super idea to tell everyone what all the songs are about, which kind of ruins them for me. I'd enjoy a song more not knowing for sure that it's about a van. They also got a bit preachy, with the longest little speech regarding sexual assault and rape in the indie scene. I have mixed feelings about this - they said to anyone out there who's experienced this, "we believe you." On the one hand, as a human being, I can't fault anyone for using whatever platform they have to give that message - having someone say they believe you is so necessary and so much harder to come by that it should be, and I'm sure there was more than one person the audience who life was touched by hearing those words. But the music critic in me was unhappy because it indicated that the songs were moralistic,* and if there's one thing I hate, it's overtly preachy music. I prefer to think of music's messages as more sublime. That said, if you have to go all political and have "messages," at least this one is personal.

All rambling aside, I would definitely go to hear this band again. And I'd buy their albums too. In fact, I'm getting a little antsy not being able to get my hands on their music right this second. [MySpace]

Shellshag recently played at my Radio Flyer Review showcase, so I can't decide if reviewing them so close to that is tacky or not. It's definitely not as tacky as reviewing them immediately beforehand, though.

Shellshag are an awesome duo with drums and guitar. I think they are certifiable, which is why they are so awesome live. You just never know quite what to expect - except awesomeness, obviously. They play very minimal hardcore music with out-in-the-open vocals and unconventional drums (a tom-based kit and a drummer with bells tied around her so she has to bounce around in time to the music). At the end of the set, they smashed a drum. [MySpace]

* "Moralistic" does not equal "moral."

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