If you go to a lot of concerts — as many of you do — a certain malaise begins to set in. Even if you’re discerning enough to attend only worthwhile shows, after a while they all start to feel the same. There are the lackluster opening acts, the wallet-draining drinks, and the way the tallest guy in the place inevitably decides to stand — or worse, sway — directly in front of you. After a while, the ringing in your ears and the joint pain from standing for three hours can threaten to drown out an otherwise fine music experience.
But then there are the shows that remind you why you go out — and they snap you out of your funk. Saturday’s show at the Casbah was just such an event, thanks to powerhouse performances by precocious punk divas The Glossines, L.A. Spector-pop ensemble Jail Weddings, and Arizona blues oddity Bob Log III.
The night got off to a rocky start, with The Glossines unable to locate their mysteriously AWOL drummer. Fortunately, omni-drummer/stunt-Glossine Christopher James Carroll (The Old In Out, Shapes of Future Frames, Erika Davies) was in attendance, and dutifully filled in at the last minute. The near-death experience must have given the girls a kick in the pants, because they delivered one of their most vibrant and energetic performances in recent memory.
Next up were Jail Weddings, whose Inconvenient Dreams EP has been spinning non-stop in this writer’s headphones for the past few weeks. With a little doing, the 60s-throwback lounge act managed to squeeze all ten of their members onto the Casbah’s cramped stage. The group put on one hell of a show, with animated singer Gabriel Hart and his Elvis lip flanked by backup vocalists Katya Hubiak and Jada Wagensomer, the latter of whom resembled a pouty Kim Novak.
The trio belted out exhilarating harmonies over hand claps, tea-kettle sax, and that classic 60s beat (you know: kick, kick-kick, snare) to transport the audience back to a simpler — or, at least, more fun — era. A sped-up version of “Cheat On Your New Lover With Me” felt a bit rushed, but the band found steadier footing on songs like the steamy, back-alley waltz “I’m My Own Doctor” and the staccato “I Thought You Were Someone I Knew,” off their forthcoming Love is Lawless album.
As they’ve done on Jail Weddings’ records, the sashaying Hubiak and Wagensomer stole the show with their careening harmonies. The girls finger-wagged their way through “These Fleeting Moments,” the “Mony Mony”-inspired “What Did You Do With My Gun?” and the bratty “Do You Think We’re Gonna End Up On Skid Row?”, at times giving off the impression — perhaps unintentionally — that they were trying to one-up each other.
Unfortunately, balancing the sound for a ten-piece band isn’t an easy task, and the Casbah’s cacophonous mix creaked and groaned under the weight. Peripheral instruments like the violin and saxophone were lost along the way, but the audio problems did little to detract from Jail Weddings’ inspired, infectious performance.
Finally, square peg Bob Log III took the stage, dressed in his signature cannonball-man outfit, singing into a telephone glued to the front of his motorcycle helmet. If you’ve ever scoffed at The White Stripes for having too many members, Bob’s your uncle — the one-man band dazzled the crowd with his lightning-fast slide guitar and thundering foot drums.
His dirty, frenetic blues made him sound like the love child of Captain Beefheart and Primus, and the crowd ate up every moment. Log worked the audience like a puppet master, convincing fans to buy him drinks — or, as he called them, “applause.” After playing a song called “Boob Scotch,” Log even convinced one “nice lady” to stir his drink with her naked breast. Bob Log III’s act was impressive at first, but became less enthralling once it became apparent that each song was nearly identical to the rest.
Not that the crowd minded — in my years frequenting the Casbah, I’ve rarely seen the crowd as worked up as they were for Bob Log III, whose act served as a bizarre cap to a thrilling night. Each of the bands’ performances had its own small problems, but that roughness around the edges only added to the evening’s palpable sense of excitement. From the charming, girly punk of The Glossines to the sweeping grandeur of Jail Weddings to the bizarro swagger of Bob Log III, it was a great show, and a welcome slap in the face to my concert-going apathy.