You'd be hard pressed to name a better live experience at a club than Alejandro Escovedo. This veteran has seen and done it all and his band come prepared with solid musicianship, perfect sound engineering and an energetic set that hooks the audience and never lets them go.
This was a special evening too, Alejandro paid homage to Lou Reed, covering two of his songs, while adding a mix of covers from that influential era, including covers of The Stooges, Rolling Stones, Neil Young and even David Bowie.
He threw up a lot of his own classics too, including Sally Was a Cop, San Antonio Rain and Sensitive Boys, among others.
This is a class act, a finely honed group of musicians who perform their craft with love and passion. It's what going to a show is all about, good times had by all.
I should confess Ringo Deathstarr was a recent discovery for me. I didn't buy Colour Tripp until early summer 2012. I quickly bought Sparkler afterward and have enjoyed them ever since where they quickly graduated to a short list of music I played all summer long.
So I was stoked to finally see them live when I heard they were coming to the Comet in Seattle. I love the Comet, I love this band, what could go wrong right?
Tech. That's what can go wrong.
I knew I was in trouble, when I heard that Ringo Deathstarr didn't perform a sound check before they opened the club. Maybe they couldn't, the Comet probably can't really accommodate it. Then I saw that the transition from Ringo Deathstarr's gear from Black Nite Crash's gear took only 5 minutes or so. They just kinda literally walked on stage and plugged in.
The short of it is, whoever was running their board had it all wrong. Not only was the mix on the board all wrong, their bass head blew out in the middle of the third song, delaying the set 10 minutes while they scrambled for a replacement.
The lights were too low, you couldn't see much of the band at all. It wasn't low as in 'dramatic or cool looking' it was low as in whoever is running the lights doesn't know what they are doing.
I left before the gig even ended. I couldn't bear such a great band sounding and looking like this. It wasn't right. It was like watching George Orwell being forced to orate a Marvel comic book.
I understand Ringo Deathstarr probably can't afford decent techs (or maybe can't afford any techs and have to just rely on the club's staff), so I sympathize. I should also reiterate this is a great band. Their CDs are lush, rich tributes to shoegaze and more than that, they stand out with a unique, highly entertaining sound and style of their own.
But this was a night of band sound, bad lighting and broken equipment. Even as you went to the men's room backstage you were forced to climb over an array of scattered equipment and drum kits from previous act, just abandoned there, drunkards like me slamming into them by accident. That's just sloppy. I know I'm at an 8 dollar show, serving 2 dollar beer, but the band's gear just left to get stepped on, is shoddy - no matter what the ticket price.
This isn't Ringo Deathstarr's fault of course, it just is what it is, when you are an emerging band, trying to make a living on a Sunday night cheap beer night at the Comet.
One more small note, I finally got to see local band Black Nite Crash and I was suitably impressed enough to buy their latest record.
PS - It was kind of a thrill watching Alex drinking her water and hanging out with friends at the corner of the bar. I was tempted to talk to her, just tell her how her band is doing wondrous things, encourage her. But what would such hollow words mean coming from a schmuck like me? Besides, she was clearly having a good time. It seemed strange that half the bar didn't even seem to realize it was her.
I'd still tell her that same thing even after this show. This is an emerging, promising band doing great things. Let's just hope they find enough success to truly showcase their talents live.
Any Raveonettes show is going to reward you with rich, delicious distortion as well as well-played hooks and precise execution. It's also going to reward you with Sharin Foo, a beautiful woman to look at and one who can play on stage with the best of them. Sharin doesn't look the part, she's a clever musician who performs with great skill.
The genius of the duo is Sune of course, an obsessive writer of fantastic guitar hooks and melodies who seems to be able to create a new album, almost at-will and each one delivering charming, memorable songs.
But the band is aging now, that truth is apparent with each subsequent tour. Sune's bad back and health issues have forced him to sit still a lot more than the earlier days and Sharin, at times, looks downright bored. Many of the songs they play (Love in a Trashcan, a fantastic piece) have been played so often and for so many years, that while they are executed flawlessly, they are also delivered with robotic precision and not a lot of love or passion.
The Raveonettes were a joy to watch last night and the die-hards were dancing and having a great time as always. But this is a duo where both members turn 40 next year and sadly, that means the youthful energy that often made their earlier tours a highlight have diminished.
It's been replaced with greater skill perhaps, the band is never late to the stage and execute their set with great professionalism. Their set lists are lovingly crafted, offering a healthy dose of their new material, but with plenty of their "classics" and even a few obscure songs, they trot out for the truly hardcore.
I love The Raveonettes, I always will. I had a great time last night. This is a band however that is staring middle-age in the face and just may have to adjust accordingly. It will be interesting to see how they handle the adjustment.