Seeing Young Empires, Hosannas, and Black Elk Speaks at the Bug Jar's Tympanogram Show

Music blog Tympanogram hosted another show at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) After their show earlier this year, I knew I didn't want to miss this one. That, and their prolific blog has a lot of good stuff.

As always, I went in cold, having not even listening to the sample songs Tympanogram posted. Black Elk SpeaksMySpace link started things off. They do some great vocal-harmonies, and play rock influenced by a lot of genres. Although I have nothing bad to say about them, I did lose interest after a while.

Next up was HosannasMySpace link who I enjoyed a lot. They played great synth-rich atmospheric rock. I picked up their latest CD Together and have been enjoying it as well. Finishing up was Young EmpiresMySpace link who played an excellent set of synth-rock alternative.

In all another successful show — and another reason to keep an eye on what Tympanogram is up to.

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Visiting Friends in Ithaca and Seeing That 1 Guy and Willie B. at Castaways

All the stay-up-late preparation I had been doing led up to this trip to Ithaca. I stopped by to see my old friends Sean and Kelly — so long has it been, that they have a 3-year-old kid I had never met. Nonetheless, we picked up where we left off and had a nice time catching up.

Afterward, I headed to Castaways (413 Taughannock Blvd., Ithaca) to catch the show there. The place is great to see live music. I can't think of a comparable venue in Rochester: it's laid out as one big room with the bar on one side and the stage on the other. Low ceilings and acoustic drapes keep the sound from being overwhelming. Plus, the people I met were pretty nice … I expected it out of Ithaca, realizing it was just an arbitrary opinion about the town.

Starting off the show, Willie B.MySpace link (a.k.a. Brian Wilson) played drums with some MIDI electronics. I was kind of disappointed because I thought his songs really don't go anywhere — I suspect he's better in a band such as Johnny DowdMySpace link which I really liked years ago (although I don't remember if it was this same guy on drums). Headlining was That One GuyMySpace link who was just fantastic. As I've described before, he plays a custom-made, 7-foot tall "magic pipe" which includes a guitar string and a bass string along with a bunch of buttons that control a synthesizer. As such, the gyrations necessary to play the magic pipe automatically affect a dance performance. Plus the sound is practically unclassifiable: it's cousin to jam bands, hip-hop, rock, synth-pop, and novelty acts — in degrees that vary considerably from song-to-song.

Although I didn't leave all that late, the two-hour drive won out against my stay-up-late practice and I had to pull over for a quick nap before getting home around 2:30 a.m.

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Watching Hinkley, The Corrections, and Burning Daylight at the Bug Jar

I walked through the blowing snow (because, believe it or not, it beats dusting, scraping, and shivering in the car several times) to The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) to catch the show. When I got there, from HinkleyMySpace link was already playing. If you read other critics, or talk to local rock band members around town, you've likely experienced the universally glowing reviews of Hinkley. In my mind, they're one of a few bands that I have weak memories of strongly enjoying, but when I'm actually at a show, I find their musical intelligence to be overwhelming and I kick myself for not going to every Hinkley show. Perhaps it was the [literal] cold weather, but I thought they sounded [metaphorically] extra warm. I describe their sound as deceptively mellow, complex rock-and-roll. I find there isn't much more point than saying, "I think they're worth seeing for this reason", and avoid the "sounds-like-these-three-bands" cliché [and remember, kids, the trendy way to pronounce is "clitch" as "clee-SHAY" is totally cliché].

Next up was the new-to-me band The CorrectionsMySpace link. I threw the word "warm" in the adjectives in my notes, down from "extra warm" for Hinkley, so I guess it was all about average kinetic energy after all. I also described them as bouncy, alt-country rock. I'm easily swayed, and visiting their website, I decided to add "acoustic pop-rock" as well. Any of those descriptions will do. Their musicmanship was also top-notch — and their lead singer was a charismatic smiler, sending a message of welcoming familiarity to the audience. Their musical style led me to compare them to early Barenaked Ladies, 1980's Elvis Costello, and a bit of Tears for Fears, even though cliché dictates the last band be obscure. Alas, I may have tainted you alls opinions, but I believe in your ability to ignore me.

Finishing up was Burning DaylightGarageBand linkMySpace link and I was getting tired and still had an hour of walking ahead of me, so I left after just a few songs. I can't help but give them lukewarm monikers like "solid acoustic-driven bar-rock" because I just don't hear the complexity. It's good, accessible, and it rocks, but I'm seldom surprised. Like Hinkley, I have weak memories of enjoying them. However, in this case, it's indistinguishable from strong memories of somewhat enjoying them. Lots of people love them, so don't take my word for it, and don't sweat it that I'm not a big fan.

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The Enablers at Monty's Krown

It's been a while, but I got back to Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) to catch The EnablersMySpace link. It was fun to get back to the old haunt, and the band didn't disappoint. They play a strong mix of punk and rock, although at this point it's mostly cover songs. Their originals were solid and the mix of music … I mean — wow — who plays the Hollies?

I'll definitely be keeping an eye on them … even if they do change their name. [In my opinion, The Enablers is a fine name, but at the request of the lead singer, I added my favorite fake band name to their list of possibilities: Fist the Bride even though it was destined for a fake metal band.]

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Lobster Quadrille, Township, and Auld Lang Syne at the Bug Jar

I guess it's been a while since I wrote any reports of performances, much less one where I see a band. I still get out — although less often than I used to — and tonight was one of those cases. I went to The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) and got there a bit early so I had a chance to catch up with the folks in The Lobster QuadrilleMySpace link. As it turns out, they were up first — there was some confusion about who was when, as it was Auld Lang SyneMySpace link's show (so they got top billing) and TownshipMySpace link came in from Boston.

Anyhow, The Lobster QuadrilleMySpace link did a great set. I found myself particularly mesmerized by Love is Cold. I've mentioned it hundreds of times [okay, for each of the last 29 of their shows I posted], but they do a great rendition of satirical gospel with all of 6 [or is it 7?] people on stage performing. Lead singer Solomon commented afterward that he felt the set was a bit melancholic feeling; although I think that "melancholic" suits them quite well.

Next up was TownshipMySpace link who I really enjoyed as well. They do a crisp, fresh version of classic rock. I even bought their CD which I've been enjoying as well. Finishing up was Auld Lang SyneMySpace link who I've now finally had the chance to hear. The night was getting a bit long for me, but I stayed enough to find they played a great heavy-hitting proto-rock that I'll likely seek out in future shows.

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Monotonix, Handsome Jack, and Blue Spark and Flame at the Bug Jar

After having dinner with Ali, I headed out to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) later on. When I arrived, Blue Spark and FlameMySpace link was just finishing their set. They sounded great: loud and powerful, like rock should be. I didn't realize, but Handsome JackGarageBand linkMySpace link was on the bill too. Their set was very good, but the last time I saw them, I liked them better — the chemistry just wasn't perfect in the whole thing tonight.

Finishing up was MonotonixMySpace link who blew everything away. They opened up with a flaming drum kit (paper, lighter fluid, and flames, that is). The lead singer Ami started running around and even did a bit of crowd surfing. He grabbed my half-full beer out of my hand before I realized that was where he was getting all the beer I got sprayed with minutes earlier. The guitarist stayed mostly out of the blast radius, but the drummer had his kit moved around by Ami during songs. Half-an-hour in, there's this guy who pops into the fray, moshing with his pants around his ankles. It wasn't long before he was streaking in his socks and being molested by the singer using the microphone cord.

Now that's a show not to miss.

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