Friday night is always an intense night at NXNE — having spent the two prior nights up late and up early for work makes staying up until 4am a little tricky. I gave it my best shot last night, and here’s what I checked out:
The Breezes @ Rancho Relaxo – I was excited to check out The Breezes because they’ve got members of a band I really like called The Golden Isles. I caught them a few years back at and empty Horseshoe Tavern and loved them. Unfortunately the 8pm slot reared its head last night and The Breezes didn’t end up with much of a crowd. Their sun-kissed pop with slight psych and classic rock flourishes was alright, but I couldn’t help but think they were having an off night. The elements were there for something that I’d totally dig, but it didn’t really add up. Not the worst set by any means, but it just wasn’t there yet. I’d be interested in hearing their recordings and checking their sound out that way.
Enjoy Your Pumas @ Sneaky Dee’s – Enjoy Your Pumas played a very weird mix of music last night in the 9pm slot at Sneaky Dee’s. Not weird in an arty or experimental way, but weird in the way that it just didn’t seem to meld properly. They sounded like a band who used to be post-hardcore or post-rock and were trying to go a little poppier. The guitarists had chops, doing some tapping and intertwining their riffs in interesting ways, but it didn’t really jive with the singer or with the songwriting. For the first half of their set it just plain didn’t work, and only once they committed to playing heavier stuff at the end did it feel like they got comfortable within their songs. It still wasn’t for me, but at least it seemed like it fit the band.
Indian Handcrafts @ El Mocambo – I went into this Indian Handcrafts show thinking they were a completely different band. I swore they were a duo who played insane noisy art-rock while wearing masks, but instead I got a heavy-as-hell riff-rock band. That was fine by me though, because I dug their set. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many heads nodding in unison. They even played a Fu Manchu cover, who I’m not afraid to say — as silly as that band can be — are pretty awesome.
Ruby Coast @ Sneaky Dee’s – Back at Sneaky Dee’s it was getting heated up, the crowd had probably doubled since I saw Enjoy Your Pumas. Ruby Coast seemed to draw a lot of friends of the band, because everyone knew the lyrics to all their songs. They sounded very similar to bands like Burn Planetarium or Tokyo Police Club. Their vocal melodies were really catchy and although the lyrics seemed very simple, they pulled it off and were all around fun.
Archie Powell & The Exports @ Rancho Relaxo – Speaking of fun, Archie Powell & The Exports played maybe the most energetic set I saw all night. In trying to describe them without saying “pop-punk” — that’d be a disservice to the band — I decided the best way would be to say they took classic power-pop songwriting and sped it up until it was almost punk. It was like elements of Elvis Costello fused with the best of ’90s power-pop to create a really solid set. Like most bands in this genre, the songs did become a little repetitive, but the set was just short enough for it not to matter. Archie Powell & The Exports are worth checking out if you like that style, for sure.
It was at this point in the night that I was supposed to go to the Silver Dollar for Powers, but I still had a half of a pint courtesy of Dan Wolovick, so I decided to finish it instead. Well one pint lead to a few more beers, and those lead to a shot or two. Basically, I didn’t really pay attention to Super Vacations (they sounded alright from the back), but I vaguely remember The Black Void going on at 3am and my body saying “Welp, you need to leave”. And leave I did. Hopefully I’ll keep it together tonight for the last few sets.