I got a later start than I wanted but it turned out to be timed perfectly. Just minutes after I arrived at The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.), Stereophone started their set. The trio played fast, hard-pop-rock with a notably deceptive effortlessness. Although they jokingly implied they were new to live performance, they were proficient with their songs.
Next up was Red This Ever who played great punk synth-pop. Listening to their album after the fact, I reinforced the notion that they were influenced by bands like Ministry and Depeche Mode, bringing in the hard instrumental aspects of the former with the a singing style closer to the latter. I chatted with them after the show — apparently they decided to make the road their home for the next 2 years, leaving Baltimore, Maryland in the rear-view mirror. I wish them well and hope that lead singer Roy stays serious-injury-free (despite my best efforts, advising improvements on how to attach plastic milk crates to one's feet.)
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. (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 Dowd which I really liked years ago (although I don't remember if it was this same guy on drums). Headlining was That One Guy 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.