The bands, A Night in the Box and The God Damn Doo-Wop Band, gave uncannily honest performances that put new and interesting twists on older styles. The bands hailed from the Twin Cities, like most acts that the Pause features,and are signees of senior Ian Anderson's ever-growing label,Afternoon Records.
A Night in the Box was the first to take the stage. The trio was comprised of Alex Dalton on drums, Clayton Hagen on guitars and vocals, and Travis Hetman on guitars, vocals, banjo and harmonica. As they walked to their instruments, the front men looked like old bluesmen fresh from the Delta. Within seconds it was apparent that they had the sounds to match.
However, as the song progressed, numerous other musical styles revealed themselves. Bluegrass harmonies arched over Delta-blues chord progressions, which themselves were anchored on rock and hip-hop rhythms. Each band member contributed to a fierce groove that inspired no small amount of foot-stompin' and hip-shakin' in
the surprisingly large audience.
They ended their set with a reviewer-friendly juxtaposition. The second-to-last song featured molten slide lines over a Rage Against the Machine-style groove; the closer was a soulful a cappella number that brought drummer Dalton up front to help with the harmonizing.When they finished, they had left it all on the stage, which is about all an
audience can ask for.
While some might have thought that the sometimes-uneven vibrato and strained falsetto were signs of a lack of musicianship, it reminded me of the honest singing found throughout my old blues catalogue. The performance might not have been music major-perfect, but it was soul-perfect.
After a short break and stage change, the God Damn Doo-Wop Band walked to their microphones, slung on their guitars and delivered. They featured Dave Brockschmidt on drums, Ross Fellrath on guitar, Johnny Ruder on alto sax, Dillon Ritchie on bass and Kat Naden, Carissa Coudray and Saumer Jackson on vocals.
There seems to be something inherently gustsy about being a doo-wop band. Despite hearing them at their sound check before the show, it took a couple of seconds to process it: this band was actually playing doo-wop, from the subtle drum part to the reverb-laden guitar, to the shoo-bops and doobie-doos. One couldn't help but smile. Sure, there seemed to be something different to the sound, but by and large, visions of poodle skirts and milkshakes filled my head.
And then they started their cover of The Ramones' "Kill that Girl." Besides being a lot of fun, the cover helped to clarify that "something different.î Were they a doo-wop band? Sure. But they were a doo-wop band that The Ramones would've formed if they would've had the nerves to do it.
In terms of musicality the group was solid: The mix wasn't cluttered, the rhythm section provided that rock-solid Motown feel and, in spite of a cold or two, the vocalists alternately belted it out or sweetly harmonized with one another. The only complaint could be that the set was cut short by the late start time of the concert itself.
While the concert wasn't the inaugural Tuesday night show, it was my first and was intensely enjoyable. Hopefully we'll be seeing these bands and their earnest performances again soon. In the meantime, you can check out their My Space accounts: myspace.com/nightinthebox and myspace.com/thegoddamndoowopband. The former's new album drops in November, and the latter's is already out.