February 14, 2008

Local Bands Rock the Haunt

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Monday night (yes, I know it’s an weird night for a show), three (mostly) local bands lit up the stage at the Haunt, drawing in an audience despite a long day, piles of work and a looming Tuesday morning. The night started off rather slowly, the floor oddly populated by young girls (we’re talking tweens here, maybe 15 years old) and a few punk rockers. But as each band did their thang, the crowd picked up, leading to a rockin’ finale by Another Day Late.
The night began with Fairway, a band of local youths, two of whom attended my high school in nearby Trumansburg, N.Y. (woo-hoo, shout out for T-burg!!) — members are Zach Schoedel, bass and lead vocals, Aaron Spinks, guitar and vocals, Travis Methany, guitar and Greg McClure, on drums. As usual, the guys were rockin’ out, clearly having a great time going nuts.
Although Fairway has a pretty generic punk-rock vibe, what made this particular show cool was a slew of new songs straight off their soon-to-be-released album (circa April 2008). The new songs had the usual intense, head-banging, noise-making sound, but nevertheless featured really great vocal harmonies, amped-up guitar solos and some stupendous, albeit very, very loud, drumming. I feared, actually, for the drumhead’s on Another Day Late’s set — Greg has never been known to hold back on the drums, and on Monday he rocked the sticks right out of his own grip several times. Overall, the band’s set was really tight, and the new songs included some less pound-y, more complicated and more melodic intros that made for a really cool step out of the genre. Semi-screechy, semi-echoing guitar riffs further added to the rockin-ness, for a really fun performance.
Second up was Aficionado, a ten-piece (yes, really, ten-piece) storm of chaos from Albany, New York, featuring the following: six long-haired guys, one shorter-haired, one mohawked, one who never took his hood off, and one (long-haired) girl, all indie-d out. In real terms the band is Nick, August, James, Dustin, Mark, Richard, Marissa, Craig, Chris and Face, on vocals, guitar, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, flute, trumpet/synth, trumpet and ‘lights,’ respectively. Aficionado was one of the craziest and most fun bands I have ever had the pleasure of watching and despite a raging cold and a mountain of work waiting at home, I found myself wishing that the set was longer. This is where Face, the lights guy, comes in. Aficionado brought their own light boards with them, in varying colors, and … wait for it … a smoke machine. It was awesome, so much fun to watch. Adding to the chaos was the fact that 10 people barely fit on stage, and all 10 were bouncing around, in time and in unison.
Music-wise, Aficionado matches it’s stage presence — loud, fast and intense, kind-of Decembrists meets Led Zeppelin, meets Metallica. The flute, though, really set these guys (and guy-ette) apart, by accenting and contrasting with the heavy pounding and the unusual vocals. Speaking of vocals, the lead singer was awesome to watch — he had a tendency to bug his eyes and act out the lyrics — but more awesome to listen to. Several of the songs featured really, really cool four-part harmonies (and believe me, folks, that is not easy to do).
The third song, entitled “Deaf Ears” was my favorite, I think. It began with eerie, Middle-Eastern folk-song-esque flute, drums and tambourine, becoming progressively more intense (with more instruments chiming in), but keeping the same eerie melody on the flute. Layered over a constantly pounding bass and two constantly rocking guitars, it really sounded great.
Last but not least was the much-heralded Another Day Late, though I have to say, the stage looked quite sparse after storm Aficionado blew through. Another Day Late also played a great set, though unfortunately, as noted in the interview, two-a-day shows were starting to take their toll, especially on Kohl’s voice. Although the vocals were still impressively high, and often neatly a-rhythmic, his voice did sound noticeably strained. Oh, the trials of tour-dom (aka: superstar-dom).
The music was, as per the night’s theme, rockin,’ though, in this case, slightly more melodic, and with a bunch of neat off-beats, random riffs and complex intros. The music was further enhanced by pounding cymbals (the drummer, by the way, looks eerily like Vinz from La Haine), intricate bass parts, and screaming guitar solos layered over the music in a super-high register … which was awesome.
The band was unfortunately pretty clearly tired, and not as tight as I know they usually are, but their unusual vocal melodies and minor chord progressions still made the music interesting. At the show, they were selling their brand new CD, not available in stores until March, and I, for one, picked up a copy. I would recommend that you do so too.