by Dave Schaefer
Much like Andyman’s Treehouse, there’s a love-hate relationship with The Basement. Cramped, dark and low-ceilinged, the venue is a strange concoction of hallway, billiard room, bar and music hall, chopped up and tossed together like a second-rate Tarantino flick. The stage is a small space that’s slightly larger than the mens room at the Blue Dube. It sports low-hanging pipes and beams that the establishment’s management was kind enough to mark with florescent tape so the onstage band doesn’t hit their heads (a regular occurrence). With the large columns holding up the House of Crave above you and the stage -- save for the small pit -- at the same level as the rest of the floor, it’s nearly impossible to see anything unless you're in the pit itself or standing in the first row around it.
Still, even with all its downfalls, I have an affinity for this venue. With a space so small, you can’t help but have an intimate experience with the bands that your watching. It creates a personalized experience where even a bad band can appear to have some redeeming value. It’s as though you’re watching them in your living room. A very very small living room.
On Friday night, all three bands that performed didn’t need The Basement’s intimate ambiance to help impress the crowd.
We Are The Fury
First up was Toledo, Ohio’s We Are The Fury. Starting the show with danceable rock with a poppy slant, the band seemed to surprise the crowd with their better-than-expected set. Of all the bands, these guys came off the most as slick marketers of themselves. Normally, this would be a bad thing, but due to the brand of music they played and the amount of energy they displayed, their slick appearance -- and lead singer Jeremy Lublin’s glittered face -- was easily tolerated.
After frantically clearing the stage of We Are The Fury’s equipment, 1990s -- hailing from Scotland -- began setting up. Normally this wouldn’t be much in the way of entertainment, except that drummer Michael McGaughrin -- wearing his anti-rockstar Noah Bennet hornrims -- began setting up his drum set on center front of the stage, surprising many in the crowd and caused a flurry of snapshots as he toiled through the process mere inches away from the frontline of onlookers.
Once everything was set up, 1990s put on a truly incredible show. The band’s sound blends inane lyrics with old-fashioned pub rock and the band was having as much with the music as the crowd in front of them. Immensely charming guitarist/vocalist Jackie (sometimes John) McKeown (formerly of The Yummy Fur) was fairly amazing with his command of the strings and McGaughrin showed the crowd that all that time he took to set up was by no means in vain. Bassist Dino Bardot of Stinky Munchkins -- who’s playing tour stand-in for Jamie McMorrow who quit 1990s in September -- is hugely talented. Too bad they can’t keep him.
By far the majority of the people at the show had no clue who these guys were, but just a couple songs into their set the crowd in the bar started noticing them and soon after were packed in the small space to hear the band perform. By the middle of the set, they had won the audience and by the end -- and after a spectacular mini improvisational jam session -- the crowd were nearly cheering them into an encore.
The Electric Six
But most everyone was there for the headliner -- Electric Six. The constantly-smiling Dick Valentine delivered a show so effortlessly entertaining that you realize the stage is where he belongs. His bizarre, sarcastic wit is evident with each song played and his every word and movement fairly drips with nudge-nudge wink-wink cynicism. At the same time, Valentine can come across as somewhat disinterested, as though he were perhaps thinking of how he might go about separating the darks from the lights in his laundry when he got back home to Detroit. Those in the know, however, are aware that he wasn’t thinking that at all on Friday night -- because if he was, he would’ve had no qualms about saying so.
The six-piece barely fits on the stage at The Basement and given a bit more space they perhaps would’ve been more dynamic, but amongst the dancing and general mood of drunken fun, the crowd didn’t seem to mind. As evidenced when the first chords of “Gay Bar” began to be plucked on The Colonel’s guitar, which sent the pit audience into a moshing frenzy.
Their performance was pure, unadulterated -- or maybe adulterated -- entertainment. Exactly what's expected from Electric Six.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
by Dave Schaefer
Posted by dave491 at 2:49 PM