Good times were had yet again at The Reverb. Some folks were surprised at the size of the turnout since the UNI students were moved out as of Friday night; others commented more the age of the turnout, thinking some parents must be there to see their kids play or something. Presumably this would apply to Old Men, Dead Dogs, who were the newest and newest-looking band on the bill, but they didn’t look like high schoolers either. To be sure, there were a lot of faces at the show I don’t usually see much of; my theory is that a lot of locals decided that it’s safe to go out now that they don’t have to deal with annoying college kids swarming all over the place.

So Long! sounded pretty good, playing fast enough that they constantly sound like they’re about to go off the rails entirely. They had a bassist who looks new, but was unremarkable apart from having glasses and a cool-looking amp. He pretty much just stuck to the old roots on the eights routine. Kevin G is their new drummer, and his skills are legendary; much of their material constrains him to the archetypal standard 90s-and-later punk beat, however. In a few fills and slower sections he was able to do his trademark “one drummer that sounds like two” thing, though it was hard to make out all the detail he throws in over the volume of the guitar amps. Here’s a tip for you kids playing rock out there: if you’ve got two guitarists with half-stacks and you’re playing a small club, a little restraint is called for if you don’t want to end up just making it impossible for the audience to hear the vocals and other instruments. And then you wonder why you have to keep asking for things to be turned up in the monitors… Still, despite the new lineup only having about 25 minutes of material worked up as yet, there was sort of a new presence to them last night. I have a feeling that when they start working on some new stuff, something really interesting is going to happen.

Old Men, Dead Dogs kind of just sounded like So Long but not nearly as what you’d call tight – they actually did fall off the rails quite a bit. The singer had more of a classic hardcore kind of stage presence, and they too only had about a 25 minute set. Word is they’ve been at it about a month now. So Long! was actually a bit miffed at having to play before them, but the deal is that the singer had to work until 10. My attention definitely wandered though, I can only take the standard-issue modern hardcore/punk rock thing for so long.

I think we played pretty well. A lot of positive feedback followed; there were some sound issues from Tyler’s amp as usual – something about the combination of that amp and the Reverb’s microphones turns it into kind of an overdriven mess; then again it sounds kind of cool that way. Tyler played pretty decently though, despite being characteristically inebriated. May have been one of our better executed sets so far. No less a local music-scene figure than Amy G was raving about our set to me afterwards, which was very encouraging.

The Venom Electric, depending on which way you look at it, are either a reincarnation of Dylan Sires’s earlier band The Panama Kids or a Teddy Boys side project. They’re a product of that Teddy Boys/Beat Strings power-pop scene and they sound like it. Some bunch of local kids apparently grew up around the good Beatles records being played a lot, and we end up with bands like these, built around crafty songwriters with great melodic sense who seem to just eat, breathe, live, exude music continuously. You’ll get no complaints from me on that. Brian C. recently imparted to me during a Teddy Boys set, “I love Tapes & Tapes, and these guys destroy Tapes & Tapes.” Dylan and Harper of The Teddy Boys are both in The Venom Electric, and their sound is very much in the same vein but with the arrangements stripped down somewhat, and with Dylan doing a lot more singing, as does the bassist who sort of reminds me of Peter back when he played in Exit Drills.

As usual, Tyler bailed before he could help load out. Chris who lives across from the Reverb invited us to come hang out after the show but by the time 2:00 rolled around he had disappeared. I felt like getting to bed anyway, as did Bret. All in all, a pleasant, satisfying evening of being musician guy.

Charlie Schiz

Charlie Schiz
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. I've been weird all my life. It's my time to shine.

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