Dead Leaf Echo at Union Pool
About the only type of band I would try to shoot at Union Pool is a psychedelic band. The venue isn't exactly known for its lighting, but these psych bands are pretty reliable about bringing their own. It is as though they realize that however evocative the music may be, staring at four people who are mostly just standing there tends to kill the mood. And since you can't rock out all the time... fancy lighting is a very good idea.
Dead Leaf Echo call themselves an art collective, which I guess in practice means that there is an extended cast of part-time band members. I know that a fellow named Christo (ex-Vandelles) has played guitar with the group and that they have had a few drummers.
Their sound is in the introspective, MBV-influenced school of psychedelia in which the goal seems to be taking emotions like passion and despair and presenting them in an intellectualized manner. It makes sense then that the latest Dead Leaf Echo album is based on a psychology textbook. The thing is, the tension between the rawness of those emotions and the coolness of the presentation bursts out every once in a while. You can rock out some of the time, and they do. I imagine that shoegaze fans will happily bliss out to the coolness. Personally I prefer the moments of tension, but to each his own.
Bloodshot Bill at Union Pool
Bloodshot Bill is the black hole of rock-n-roll (in a good way). He is all of the rock-n-roll in the universe (all of it!) compressed into one guy. I have to say, though, the Hugh Hefner outfit creeped me out a little bit. Maybe the point is that he gets as much rockin' done as Mr. Hefner? Think about it.
The Babies at Union Pool
The lighting at Union Pool is still a bit weak but the sound continues to be stellar. The Babies are a bunch of "old" pros (surely on their fifth or sixth band each) who always sound pretty good, but this night was the best sounding show yet. Good! They have lots of great catchy rock songs of the type which should perhaps be coming out of a radio on a cross-country trip, but definitely not crackling out of the crappy PA in some converted warehouse.
Fergus and Geronimo at Union Pool
Ah, here we go, an "alternative" rock band which doesn't sound like the alternative (namely every other band). They sound like three or four other bands mashed together. They have a couple of excellent straight-up rockers and catchy pop songs, but they also do soul-inflected ballads. Then there are the thoughtful and vaguely morose numbers which remind me of Talking Heads and absolutely nothing else. Go check out "Where the Walls Are Made of Grass" and you'll see what I mean.
The Dixons at Union Pool
It had been more than a year since the last time I saw The Dixons and they picked up two new members during that time (lead guitar and pedal steel guitar). I hope this was one of their first shows with this lineup because it was sloppy. Not horrible, just sloppy. They have great songs, I know that from before, but this was not the triumphant return I was hoping for. Next time?