"A Performance Review" Bonnie & The Bang Bang, Battlehooch, and DonCat @Slim's 6-27-14
If there's one thing a performance(r) needs to have, its a total understanding of timing. You need to know when to slow a set down, speed a set up, work the crowd, etc etc...
Timing is something I need to get better at when writing these reviews. (and forget excuses, sure I'm busy and have things going on that actually pay the bills, guess what so does everyone else!) So lets stop dillydallying and let's get to business...
Tonights opening act... DonCat!
When you are an opening act, it can be hard to get folks that showed up for the headliner to get into your music. DonCat's set was like a top/gyroscope. At first, there was momentum from the bassist working right out of the gate. You'd see a little glimpse of flash and sizzle but it started slow. As the set progressed however, the top just kept gaining and gaining momentum. So much momentum in fact that the asshole bro standing in front of me that started the evening openly mocking the band to anyone he could make a "rock n roll hand horns gesture" to stopped being a dick and ate a big serving of crow. by the end he wasn't laughing at a band being earnest, he was applauding the performance of a band who WORKED THEIR ASS OFF to get the crowd to care about a band they didn't know about. hooray for good music, great vocals, and earnest songs...and a hell of a way to set the stage for the following act....
The sweet second spot belonged to...Battlehooch.
Of the four times I've seen Battlehooch play, exactly zero, zilch, nil, nada have been full Hooch.(Three times were during the Awaken Cafe residency in which they played an acoustic set, cover set, and electric set, and the last time at the chapel was a Battlehooch orchestra set with the keyboardist missing.)
After getting a taste of the full Hooch, I don't know if everyone is going to be ready for the experience. Battlehooch is not a passive listening experience. The music is challenging and demands full attention. Don't get me wrong, you can enjoy the hooch anyway you choose, but if you want to get the full glass, you'd better be in it for the full shebang.
In the wrestling world, it'd be like you became a fan during the attitude era. You grew up watching things like Tables Ladder and Chairs matches that are easy to understand and get into. (Climb a ladder to get the prize above the ring).Someones going to go through a table, get hit with a chair and there's a clear-cut winner and loser. Essentially, it's pop music. (Easy four-four time signatures, verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus end, and a clear-cut hook that you don't need to be familiar with to understand and get into.) Its fun and exciting to watch, and pretty easy to get the story being told...
Now, if easy to understand and follow is what you're familiar with and you try to watch a match from the early 80s (say a Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat 60 minute time limit match) It's a TOTALLY different experience. Those two technicians take time to tell a story, it's SLOW moving at first, and there's probably not a clear-cut winner as the match probably end in a draw making you wonder what the point of watching was in the first place. (If you're used to a winner and loser)
If you're a wrasslin' nerd you'll love the match and watch it again and again because they tell a long story without the props and "easily entertain-able" elements (chairs ladders etc) that not many people can do toady! If you like the car wreck thats easy to understand, you'll wonder what the hell is going on and why's it taking so long to get any action?
Battlehooch is a Flair/Steamboat match.They don't play simple pop songs (they change time signatures more often than most), they take your mood for a ride all over the place (building songs to a frenzied point and right when you think its coming to a head they pull the rug from underneath you) , have so many different elements its hard to take it all in if you aren't paying attention (with 6 people in the band you don't exactly know where to watch because everyone is in their own element with their own style of performance) It ain't pop thats for certain but don't let that scare you, embrace the challenge that is Battlehooch!
From my perspective on this nite the MVP of the set was...the bassist Grant. From the start of the first note through the final song he was captivating and engaging the entire time. Usually this spot belongs to the guitarist AJ and or singer Pat, but tonight Grant was the stand out as the other two took a few songs to get into the swing of things. This however isn't a knock at the rest of the band, as by the end of the set I was left in amazement about what a show can be, how a performance (when you KNOW YOUR SHIT) should go and left me almost saddened in realizing how much more I have to learn as a performer myself. If you like music, and want something different, GO SEE BATTLEHOOCH!
speaking of something different...
Tonight's main event Bonnie & The Bang Bang
B&TBB know how to start a show. Thunder/rainstorm effects lead into a song about ships that will not sink. It is a slow build that continues throughout. All members knew how to emphasize their moments of coming into the song and make you FEEL the performance. And the entire evening Bonnie & The Bang Bang brought the passion, brought the emotion. in fact Bonnie and the Bang Bang did something I never thought could happen...they made me re-evaluate how I can experience and feel at a show...let me put this into some perspective...
I tend to favor fast punk/math rock. This is how I emote the best. It's fast and frenzied with a hard exterior that keeps me protected from feeling soft or weak or "emo". (It's why it's taken me so long to get into singer/songwriter bands like Dashboard Confessional.)
It's hard for me to go to that place that is so sincere, so deeply personal at that slow tempo. It scares the hell out of me to go there because I feel venerable and weak and lame. Half the set I was pondering what was happening to me. I loved the music. Bonnie was absolutely cursing the set and giving a performance that was fit for Slim's hallowed ground and yet I wasn't feeling it fully????
There was no good reason until I realized what the issue was. I was scared. I was scared to lose myself to music that wasn't fast and aggressive sounding. I was scared that maybe the good messages I was hearing from Patrick's words were hitting close to home and making me question bigger ideas. And after I realized what was happening (that I was getting in the way of enjoying an experience that was "different from my normal) I finally let myself go and get venerable.
(and in full recognition of being scared and knowing the barbs that can come along from others who are uncomfortable with going to that venerable place, I know you might think its lame or cheesy or dumb, but this is why I'm letting you know that I'm coming from your side of hating that slow meaningful shit..and here to let you know, its not so bad to go there. It's not bad to let yourself feel that deep emotion in a public space with others who are there with you. and in fact, once you come around to the positive side of it, its so damn refreshing. Get over yourselves and try it out sometime)
Bonnie and the Bang Bang did something for me I never even really knew could happen. They walked me down a path I've tried to avoid for the longest time due to ego and who I chose to define myself as. So thank you Bonnie...thank you so much for showing me a different way to feel the light as it were. It's a present that will last a lifetime!